…vendors not contributing towards services, Mayor responds
GWERU: In efforts to avert a looming time bomb at Gweru’s Mtapa market, Gweru vendors are hiring toilets and parting with a USD 1 daily to access houses of convenience.
The development comes following the failure to build ablution facilities for the under-construction Mtapa market where vendors were relocated to after the local authority decided to take advantage of the 2020 Covid-19 lockdown to demolish and reconstruct vending stalls as per the government’s instruction.
Council is to date near completion of the Kudzanai terminus market stalls while the Wimpy and Kombayi Market are still in initial construction stages.
The Mtapa termini and market which is expected to house majority of vendors has nothing to show, save for a cleared ground.
The developments come amid council promises that they need four months to complete the projects as they entered agreements with private developers, a deadline they have failed to meet more than twice.
“The total cost of the agreements combined is USD6 million. The development partners will commence work today and are expected to complete in four months’ time,” City of Gweru acting Town Clerk Vakai Chikwekwe is quoted to have said in June 2020.
The displaced Gweru vendors who were affected by the March lockdown are now hiring mobile toilets since the City of Gweru has not yet build proper ablution facilities.
Gweru Vendors Association (GVA) chairperson Angeline Zivanai said even though council had promised them toilets no action had been taken.
“Noting that the market was now a health time bomb, we had to act to at least avert the impending danger. Unfortunately, we are parting with part of our hard-earned profits to bring sanity to the market. It’s quite difficult for us considering that we have a mandate to be putting food on the table from the little profits we make.
“On the other hand, we can’t also let open defecation take a toll at our working place for known health reasons. Gweru has been prey to contagious diseases as typhoid and cholera so prevention is better than cure. Council has promised us toilets but nothing has been done to date,” Zivanai said.
“So generally, as earlier alluded, we pay a dollar per day which we use to hire movable toilets, water bowsers and disinfectants to clean the toilets,” she added.
However, responding to questions during an engagement facilitated by Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET) in Gweru this week, Gweru Mayor blamed vendors for wanting services they do not pay for.
“We have vendors at heart but the truth I will tell you is we can’t put such provisions to a community that didges contributions towards their needed services. They say they are paying for services to someone who is profiteering from them because most of them are misled. They end up enriching thieves.”
“Honestly, we can’t take money that has been paid towards service delivery by a Mkoba resident to benefit someone who has not contributed a dime. We can’t compromise in such a way as it disadvantages honest ratepayers,” Makombe said.
Makombe also took time to apologise for the delayed construction of market stalls and said the subsequent lockdown caused delays in the importation of materials.
“It is sad how the lockdown impacted our projects. We had set deadlines, yes, but unfortunately importing building materials became difficult following the subsequent lockdown. We are however close to opening the Kudzanayi Termini and market and I assure vendors that stalls will be awarded fairly and transparently,” added Makombe.
Statistics from vendors associations show that at least 16 960 families were affected by the demolition of market stalls during the lockdown. Council data also show that they have lost approximately USD5 million potential revenue flow through the absence of vendors from designated market stalls.