The City of Cape Town is encouraging people to buy flowers from the Trafalgar Place Flower Market on Thursday after an outcry by flower sellers due to Adderley Street being closed for the State of the Nation address.
But the sellers have criticised the concession, saying the “damage has already been done”.
On Friday, flower sellers in Adderley Street were fuming when they found out about the road closures, which fall on Valentine’s Day.
Dawud Saliem said he and many other sellers had ordered their Valentine’s Day stocks a month in advance.
Now countless bouquets of flowers would just go to waste on what they consider to be their “Christmas Day”.
“I’m going to lose thousands,” he said.
On Tuesday the city said that Adderley Street – which will be closed from 4pm to 9pm – will be open to pedestrians to visit the flower market.
“The flower sellers will be able to sell their goods within the Trafalgar Place Flower Market, on what is traditionally their busiest day, to passers-by.”
The city added that the flower sellers were an integral part of the historical and cultural fabric of the city and a “sterling example of the commitment it takes to make a business thrive”.
But Saliem said it was an empty gesture and the damage had already been done. “They have to keep it open to pedestrians anyway.”
He pointed out that many people bought flowers while driving past and that this would not happen if there was no traffic on the street tomorrow.
“They always talk about how they want to help small businesses, but closing the roads isn’t helping anyone at all,” he said.
Sandra Bosman said she was glad that buyers would be able to cross the street, but that the scheduling of the State of the Nation address on Valentine’s Day was a massive oversight.
“We are still going to lose business.”