Traders tackle Town Centre trading plan

Mitchell’s Plain informal traders want more than just a geographical plan of where stalls may be situated in and around the Town Centre central business district.

They spoke to the Plainsman ahead of the Saturday June 26 deadline for public comment on the City of Cape Town’s proposed draft informal trading plans for the area, bordered by Wespoort Drive, First, Fourth and Seventh Avenues in Eastridge.

The City of Cape Town’s proposed draft informal trading plans are open for public comment until Saturday June 26.

Kulsum Baker, chairwoman of the United Hawkers’ Forum, said they want their place of business to go back to its glory days, when there was law, order and cleanliness.

The forum wants:

  • Visible law enforcement seven days a week from 8am until 5pm.
  • Signage designating prohibited trading areas in and around the CBD.
  • Dedicated loading and offloading sites.
  • Designated parking offsite, which would be secured.
  • The reconstruction of market spaces in Rondo, Harmony and Lyric Squares in particular.
  • The allocation of waste skips, in designated areas, which would be managed and controlled.

Forum secretary Shireen Rowland said the existing trading sites had been unsuitable for the past 11-years.

“This has caused the traders to move into areas where the pedestrian flow is more prevalent, that is closest to taxi ranks, bus, railway stations and supermarkets,” she said, adding that they had great difficulty accommodating the many traders in particular areas.

Traders said they also needed protection from the weather, scorching heat in summer and rain in winter.

“Many of our traders have suffered tremendous loss of trade because our stock was exposed,” she said.

Ms Rowland said they were optimistic that the City would hand over the fruit and vegetable storage facilities to them and that it would prevent overnight trading.

They suggested designated trade spaces for different wares, including furniture; the fish market facility to be reconfigured and the establishment of a market management system to hold traders accountable for keeping their respective areas clean, crime-free and prevent overtrading.

The forum also asked that a platform be created for traders to learn management skills, self governance and be alerted to social issues, like gender-based violence within their homes and workspaces.

Plein Chamber of Commerce chief executive officer and chairman Séan Achim said the plan should specify exactly which changes and improvements were being implemented.

“There is no overall statement which explains that there is a plan to grow from X informal trading spaces to the new 1 010 trading spaces so that we can get a sense of the total improvement,” he said.

Mr Achim said new trading spaces had been allocated but had not been done with the specific needs of the traders in mind, in particular size, electricity or water points.

“No mention is made of key security points or nodes. The crime in that area is always of concern and an increase in trading spaces, with the resultant increase in the amounts of money trading hands requires a commensurate increase in security presences,” he said.

“There is no economic development plan attached to this architectural design work and no plan has been made available for us to review the intention of markets that will be developed as part of this plan.

“An economic plan to help our traders flourish requires more than just trading spaces and, as is mentioned in the preamble, the nature of Mitchell’s Plain trade is that traders are finding trading spaces that make sense,” he said.

Mr Achim also mentioned that the many property owners in Mitchell’s Plain should be encouraged to open their homes to trade and should not be penalised or forced to work and pay rent elsewhere.

“The Town Centre area is an important trading location and must be supported. We just feel that it is important to consider a market development approach to the local economic development and we have only been asked to comment on the ’floor-plans’ without any indication of what that market development approach will be,” he said.

Mayoral committee member for urban management, Grant Twigg, said changes in trading dynamics in the area had triggered the need to review the current informal trading plan to address some of the challenges and to create an “enabling, supportive and well managed” trading environment for all users of this public space.

“The proposed changes will, among other things, address crime, provide bigger trading bays and most importantly enhance the ability of traders to adhere to the Covid-19 safety regulations,” he said.

To view and comment on the draft informal trading plan:

  • Visit www.capetown.gov.za/haveyoursay
  • Go to the Wolfgat Sub-council offices, at the Lentegeur administrative building, corner of Melkbos and Merrydale roads, weekdays from 8am until 3pm.

For more information contact professional officer for the Department of Area Economic Development – South Sharmiel Evans on 082 721 7316 or sharmiel.evans@capetown.gov.za; or Anathi Dywili, from the public participation Unit on 021 400 9825 or anathi.dywili@capetown.gov.za