Second-hand clothes traders have started trickling back onto Harare’s pavements a year after being pushed out by the Harare City Council to designated vending areas.
In September last year, council, together with the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) removed vendors from the central business district (CBD), under an operation codenamed Restore Order.
Council allocated the vendors substandard stalls at an open space opposite the National Tyre Services near the Coca-Cola plant along Seke Road, and to the already crowded Mupedzanhamo market.
According to City of Harare by-laws, council may appoint authorised officials to be in charge of the vending sites to ensure their efficient, orderly, clean and hygienic operation.
But, this has not been the case, and a lot needs to be improved.
Some of the vendors are selling their goods in the open surrounded by dirt. It is worse for those selling clothes as they become soiled. When clothes are dirty, the vendors sell them at a lower cost resulting in losses.
Human congestion rocks Mupedzanhamo shopping precinct as vendors strive to make ends meet, with most of them occupying the exterior of the mall.
The vending site opposite National Tyre Services seems too small and cannot accommodate all vendors.
The ground is not paved, there is no proper infrastructure and with rains coming chaos will reign.
With such poor planning by council, vendors have no choice but trickle back to Harare’s paved streets.
Slowly, their numbers are increasing each day especially as soon as dark falls.
At night, along Rezende Street, hustlers disturb pedestrians from doing their day-to- day business as their goods occupy more than half of the pavements.
The corner of Nelson Mandela Avenue and Park Street, is no different as vegetable vendors flood the area targeting potential customers waiting for commuter omnibuses.
Construction House, along Leopold Takawira Street, is submerged by hawkers selling new and second-hand clothes, and shoes.
They block people who are going in out and of the food outlet at the building.
Just below the footbridge over Julius Nyerere Way, money changers go about their business operating right under the noses of council officials.
The area is congested.
Thieves target people engaged in illegal foreign currency deals.
With all this chaos, one is left wondering if Harare City Council is aware of their responsibility of taking back the capital city to its “Sunshine City” status.
One wonders at what stage council will start taking the state of the city seriously?
Do they even notice the clothes vendors who are back on the streets, if yes, what have they done so far since the numbers continue to increase daily?
Residents are tired of Harare’s City Council shortcomings and countless projects that seem to suffer a stillbirth.
They are also fed up with council’s failure to carry out a single task to a conclusion without creating more problems.
For example, in July 2018, Harare City Council and its partner Consortio International Zimbabwe promised to construct a $30 million multi-purpose business complex at Shawasha Grounds in Mbare that will include a state-of-the-art flea market to accommodate 6000 informal traders but nothing has been done to date. This has created a problem — that of hundreds of second-hand vendors selling their wares from roadsides and every other convenient open space.
In the event that council wants to relocate vendors to new or alternative vending spaces, they should make it a priority that adequate infrastructure is put up first.
It is unfair for them to take vendors to makeshift sites with poor or non-existent amenities because they will simply troop back to the CBD.