New laws to target informal traders

By Anel Powell

Stringent new operating regulations are on the cards for the city's informal traders.

Simon Grindrod, the mayoral committee member for economic development and tourism, announced on Thursday that a new bylaw had been being drafted to regulate the growing informal trading sector and indicated that stringent regulations are on the cards for the city's informal traders.

He said the city was losing "millions of rands" in revenue because there was no control of informal markets on council property.

"People have commandeered city spaces and take rent from traders. But they don't provide cleansing or security."

Grindrod has called for an audit of all public trading spaces where there are no leases or operating agreements with the city.

"There are at least seven informal markets in the city without leases," he said.

The city already has an informal trading policy, but this will be the first time trading will be regulated by a bylaw. This will mean stricter criteria for those applying for informal trading licences.

The city will provide only one trading permit for each family, traders may not have bays in several places in the city, the stall must be the applicant's sole source of income, and the applicant must have a valid South African ID document or work permit. The traders would be responsible for the cleaning and safety of their stalls.

"This will in no way persecute traders. It will be there to protect traders. (The bylaw) will formalise relations between traders and the city.

"The enforcement of informal trading has long been neglected. This bylaw is a long-term practical approach to these challenges," Grindrod said.

Permits would be issued by the city, and not by operators or managers who claimed control of public spaces.

Grindrod said the bylaw would make it easier to control the growth of informal stalls on pavements and street corners. It would also mean the regulation of vendors at traffic lights.

Grindrod said the draft bylaw would be open to public comment.

"The aim is to implement this with the help of legitimate traders."

He emphasised that traders had no reason to fear the bylaw. It would affect operators and managers of informal markets who did not have agreements with the city.

The Cape Town Lower Deck Traders Association said the bylaw would be a good thing as it would get rid of monopolies in the informal trading sector.

Representatives of the Grand Parade and Greenmarket Square Traders Associations could not be reached for comment.

"I am prepared to go to the High Court to enforce and reclaim property for the city. Individuals should know that they will be accountable for monies owed," Grindrod said.

The new permit system would enable the city to provide basic training for informal traders. It would also prevent overtrading, as in Greenmarket Square where there are reportedly 80 bays too many.

"We need to sort this out before 2010," Grindrod said.