Hawkers, Joburg agree to changes

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Hawker Livingstone Mantanga, chairman of the SA National Traders Retail Alliance. Picture: Etienne Rothbart

Johannesburg - The ugly and sometimes violent dispute between the City of Joburg and traders who were evicted from their trading spots in October and November, has ended well.

The hawkers have now agreed, and accepted, that there have to be changes and are planning to manage their own spaces by ensuring that they keep illegal hawkers out and keep their trading areas clean.

A pilot scheme for this new co-operation will start around the Noord, Wanderers and De Villiers streets area.

SA National Traders Retail Alliance (Santra) chairman, Livingstone Mantanga, said hawkers were prepared to show the city their commitment to keeping the city clean and orderly and were therefore co-operating.

“However, the city has failed in the past 10 years to manage its public spaces and the result has been the chaos that happened. We are engaging with the Central Johannesburg Partnership which manages other trading areas in the inner city very well, and we want them to help us,” Mantanga said.

The traders were willing to pay for the services of added security and cleaning, but were negotiating with the city to pay for the first month.

“We are committing ourselves to ensuring that chaos, obstructions, street crime and grime are not the result of street traders returning to their trading sites. Our management plan will ensure absolute pedestrian safety, cleanliness and an obstruction-free environment – a far superior and more sustainable situation to the one that existed in such areas both prior and after the street traders were removed,” said Mantanga.

“The lack of public space management by the city can be filled by small traders in tandem with professional management which will benefit all. Essential, non-obstructive, aesthetically-acceptable trading facilities are also to receive attention. We call for an immediate adjustment of thought.”

The net result of Operation Clean Sweep and the subsequent Constitutional Court ruling was a fresh process of engagement between street trader leadership and the City of Joburg, he said.

In Operation Clean Sweep, the City of Joburg removed about 8 000 traders from the city centre. The legal traders applied to the Johannesburg High Court for an urgent interdict to reinstate them, but this was not granted. They then appealed to the Constitutional Court which found in their favour.

The City of Joburg said illegal trading brought challenges wherever it took place.

“We reiterate our commitment to the development of the informal trading sector by creating viable trading spaces to ensure that Joburg becomes a liveable city in which people can live, work, and play,” said city spokesman Nthatisi Modingoane. “The city has already started a process of proclaiming and de-proclaiming trading areas in and around the inner city. We aim to develop the sector and its participants to be commercially viable, and this will contribute to the economic growth of the city and the quality of life of its residents.” - The Star

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