230 18-07-2012 Hawkers cooking food using open fire and gas stove on the street illegally. Picture: Tiro Ramatlhatse

ALEXANDRA hawkers are using open fires on pavements for cooking – right next to gas cylinders that they are also using.

Residents, motorists and neighbouring shop owners say their lives are in danger because of this uncontrolled activity.

The hawkers around 2nd Avenue and Watt Street are lighting fires, and using gas from sometimes rusted cylinders, which are not only a safety hazard, but are also polluting the air.

Some neighbours say they are even having difficulty breathing.

One Alex resident, who did not want to be named, said: “This is hazardous to the public. Shopkeepers, children, other hawkers and the public are at risk of lung diseases, and their lives are in danger if the tanks leak or explode.

“Metro police officers pass by and turn a blind eye to this issue. Will this issue be resolved only after a accident occurs and people lose their lives? It is sad how metro police officers are not concerned,” he said.

Another resident, who also did not want be named, said he has witnessed gas tanks falling over with a gas stove attached.

“If that gas tank had to explode, many lives would be lost,” he said.

He saw a car knocking into the gas tank and causing a small fire on the pavement. This happened right next to the road and just 5m away from the adjacent shops, he said.

“Soon after the crash, the hawkers simply continued using the gas stove without checking for any damage,” he said.

“I feel that these hawkers’ actions are grossly negligent. They are making the pavement a hazard for passers-by and themselves. They also have toddlers who play in the vicinity.”

The Joburg metro police said a meeting had been held in April with hawkers where it was agreed that there would be no open fires on pavements.

Officers would be sent to investigate and take action against the violation of the by-laws.