The City of Cape Town’s plan to overhaul informal trading in Gatesville and Athlone is out for public comment, but it’s drawn flak from traders, who say they should have been more involved in drawing it up.
More than 150 formal and informal traders signed a Gatesville Informal Traders’ Association (GITA) petition to stop the draft plan. The association presented the petition to the City last week.
Mayoral committee member for urban management Grant Twigg said there had been decline in recent years in the number of formal and informal businesses in Athlone and Gatesville, and businesses were at their busiest now on Saturday and not during the week, as had been the case previously.
“This has triggered the need to review the current informal trading plans in order to address some of the challenges and to create an enabling, supportive and well managed trading environment for all users of these public spaces,” he said.
The draft plan proposes converting Gatesville CBD into a Friday-and-Saturday market and moving traders to the Gatesville Square parking lot to curb illegal trading, fronting by formal businesses and traffic congestion; increasing the bay size from 4 to 12m2; including informal businesses operating from illegal structures in the trading plans; introducing a precinct-management approach in Gatesville; and doing a traffic study to tackle traffic congestion.
Other considerations for the Athlone area include closing bays and markets that are no longer making money; numbering bays logically to aid enforcement of the informal trading by-law; and repairing dilapidated stalls.
The plan would address crime, provide bigger trading bays and help traders comply with Covid-19 safety regulations, Mr Twigg said.
“The business community, informal traders and all relevant stakeholders are encouraged to participate in this process. The City recognises the significance of the informal traders and their contribution to the economy and to poverty reduction,” he said.Ubaidullah Safi, a clothing trader for more than 20 years, is a member of the Gatesville Informal Traders’ Association. He said most of the traders feared losing customers if they moved to the parking lot because customers would stay away if they had nowhere to park.
“We are not against the development, but it must be according to development principal. We should be involved in the assessment and design of the plan. We suggested that the old plan gazetted in 2012 should be used.
“Instead of spending taxpayers’ money unnecessarily, they can use that plan. It is good enough with small changes, which will save the City money. We want to work with the City, but they are excluding us. We can’t even call a meeting with our traders because of Covid. So if they can hold off on plans until things become a bit more normal we can all have a meeting and discuss the way forward,” he said.
The 2012 plan states that stalls should have a reasonable distance between them, that allocated bays cannot be given to another trader, that bays should be marked clearly, and traders cannot be moved to the parking area.
Gatesville Neighbourhood Watch chairwoman Fowzia Veerasamy welcomed the City’s proposal but said it should have greater focus on curbing crime in the area. The plan, she said, proposed posting four law enforcement officers at the Gatesville market, which had inadequate security, and she hoped that would curb rising crime.
“We are encouraging traders and residents to comment so that their voices can be heard,” she said. “Crime in Gatesville CBD is very high; people can’t even do shopping as they are scared of getting robbed.Getting all informal traders into regulation will really help so that the illegal traders can stop. Now that we know we will be getting dedicated officials just for Gatesville, there will be better regulations. Traders do, however, have a mixed reaction about what will happen to them. If they apply, will they be allocated a bay?’”
Traders were also hoping that their stall rentals wouldn’t increase, she said, and they needed more toilets – something they had been asking for for years.
The draft informal trading plans can be viewed at here or at Subcouncil 11 and 17 offices from 9am until 3pm on weekdays. Friday July 31 is the deadline for public comment to be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or here.