Johannesburg - The City of Johannesburg will meet hawkers in an attempt to create an inclusive economy in the inner city, the municipality said on Thursday.
“The city embraces its hawkers. We want to make life easier and more stable for those who trade legally because we want a commercially viable and dynamic informal trading sector in a clean and welcoming environment,” mayoral committee member for economic development Ruby Mathang told reporters.
He said the municipality would meet informal traders from July 28 to August 3 to discuss its revised approach to informal trading. Residents, public transport operators, property and business owners, the courts, and the security cluster were expected to attend.
“At the end of this consultation all comment and inputs will be duly considered and consolidated in a plan for the proclamation and de-proclamation of certain city streets.”
The plan would be published for written comment over 21 days and the necessary administrative processes followed for council approval and eventually gazetting.
“Informal traders are here to stay and our view is that street trading is a vital part of the city's history and a major player in the second economy,” Mathang said.
Informal traders took the city to the High Court in Johannesburg after being removed from their trading posts last year.
The municipality removed all street vendors, including those legally entitled to trade, as part of its “operation clean sweep”. The traders were invited to participate in a verification process.
Irate hawkers wanted to be allowed back to their spots and wanted a review of the city's conduct.
The high court refused to grant the traders an interim order and struck the matter off the roll for lack of urgency.
The Constitutional Court in April allowed the informal traders to return to their inner city stalls. The court interdicted the city and its metro police from interfering with them.
“We are mindful of the court order. In this process we are going to meet with lawyers representing traders.”
He said since the hawkers were allowed back there had been an increase in the number of illegal traders.
According to the city's by-law regulating informal trading, any person who intends to carry on a business as an informal trader may apply to the council for a lease or allocation of a stand.
Informal traders were expected to keep their stalls or trading area clean.
Mathang said problems in inner city streets included trading that impeded the movement of pedestrians and deterioration of the public environment due to the high volume of trading activity.