Bongani Ndlovu, Chronicle Reporter
BULAWAYO City councillors are contemplating enlisting the services of both the police and army to rid the city of illegal vendors especially in the city centre, a move that has been condemned by informal traders.
According to the latest council minutes, councillors said illegal vending was now rampant and out of control.
A member of the Health, Housing and Education Committee and Ward Five Councillor Felix Mhaka said police and the army must be engaged in order to bring sanity to the streets of Bulawayo.
Councillor Sikhululekile Moyo concurred saying illegal vendors had become a danger to themselves and the motoring public hence the urgent need to engage the association of vendors to find a solution.
She said the vendors were displaying their wares on the roads within the city centre thereby risking being run over by cars.
Councillor Mhaka said it was now very difficult to drive in the city centre after 4PM because of the congestion caused by illegal vendors blocking the roads as they sell their wares hence the need to engage the police and the army to remove them.
He said the worst affected was 6th Avenue where vendors had literally taken over the avenue thereby blocking motorists.
The Chamber Secretary Mrs Sikhangele Zhou said they had tried to engage vendors’ associations to no avail.
Mrs Zhou admitted that illegal vending was now out of control despite several engagement meetings with vendors’ representatives.
She said council was now engaging other stakeholders on how best to deal with the situation.
Mrs Zhou said there was an urgent need to enforce the law in order to restore order in the city.
Bulawayo Vendors and Traders’ Association director Mr Michael Ndiweni said they were aware of the issue but there were better ways to solve this besides bringing in security forces.
“We can solve this issue without involving the army and the police.
The army for me is used to deal with wars and we are in a country that isn’t at war like Russia and Ukraine.
We are calling for an amicable resolution of this problem of illegal vending,” said Mr Ndiweni.
He said they had engaged everyone about the illegal vending.
“Those people have been told that where they are operating is a street and they understand why they should vacate the place,” said Mr Ndiweni.
Some vendors are operating in front of supermarkets while others are on pavements blocking pedestrians.
Many of the vendors now occupying the streets are saying they used to operate from Egodini Bus Terminus which was closed in April 2016 to pave way for the construction of a multimillion-dollar mall.
Not much has been done and the vendors are calling on council to revisit the issue with a view to allowing the buses and vendors back at Egodini.
Municipal police periodically raid these vendors operating on the streets confiscating their wares but this seems not deterrent enough.