Multimillion rand wooden cabins meant to house informal traders in Mthatha, Eastern Cape, have become white elephants. Hawkers refuse to occupy them, arguing the cabins have no ablution facilities.
The cabins, worth about R4.6 million, were bought by the King Sabatha Dalindyebo Municipality.
The cabins have been standing idly for more than a year now. Hawkers in the Mthatha CBD refuse to occupy them, demanding that they be provided with water and sanitation first. They also claim they were not consulted during the purchase process of the stalls.
“We need water because there are many businesses that have to occupy these stalls, ranging from catering. Customers will complain. Secondly, these stalls are not secured. There are thugs that are using them. They do criminal activities,” says one hawker.
“We requested from the municipality to make these stalls conducive. There should be paving. There should be water and sanitation for the hawkers and the customers. They should be re-adjusted according to our demand,” says another hawker.
The Eastern Cape Business Forum has called on the government to take informal businesses seriously. Eastern Cape Chamber of Business president, Vuyisile Ntlabathi says informal trading is important in boosting the local economy.
“What is even worse was that the government paid for those cabins and they are still lying idling there and yet, look today, the weather is bad, it would have helped the poor hawkers to put their stock there, but unfortunately, they work on those conditions.”
King Sabatha Dalindyebo Municipal Spokesperson, Sonwabo Mampoza says the stalls were handed over to some hawkers in Mqanduli but the traders in Mthatha refused to accept them.
“The municipality has invested an amount of R4.6 million to buy those shelters for informal traders. The purpose behind was to ensure that our informal traders are safe in terms of weather conditions, inclement weather and so on. They were handed over to 44 people here in Mqanduli and twenty here in Mthatha.”
The hawkers allege that the stalls are now used by crooks to perform criminal activities in the city.
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