By Locadia Mavhudzi
Gweru vendors who had been temporarily moved from Kudzanayi Market in the Central Business District and placed at Mtapa Grounds say they could no longer move back to the upgraded facility given the high costs of the new vending stalls.
The renovated Kudzanayi Bus Terminus is now open to the public with only 20 percent occupancy to ensure adherence to Covid-19 prevention regulations.
The private contractor, who gave the terminus a facelift, is administering the facility.
Bentach Resources project manager David Kudakwashe said vending stalls had been opened to the public.
Kudakwashe said rentals for vending stalls ranged from $150 to $400 per day while commuter omnibuses and buses pay between $1 500 to $2 000 per day.
“Those vendors dealing in vegetables are paying $300 per day while merchandisers pay $400 per day,” he said.
“Hardwares and mini shops will pay $650 per day while those roasting maize cobs and groundnuts pay $150 per day and long-distance buses will be paying $1 500 for using the bays while cross border buses will be forking out $2 000 for landing a bay in the terminus.”
Midlands Vendors Association secretary Angeline Zivanayi said while they appreciated the dangers of operating at Mtapa open Market, they were resorting to stay there as they could not afford the market charges at the refurbished Kudzanayi market.
“We do not even understand if the facility was upgraded for us because how do you expect a vendor to pay an equivalent of USD 20 in weekly market stall rentals,” she said.
“Vending is for the poor hence council and their partners should consider sustainable ways collecting revenue from vendors.”
She said vendors could not get vending stalls in the new facility after they failed to raise the $7 000 which was required for deposit.
“I have been a vendor at Kudzanayi bus terminus for 13 years but I cannot go back there because I cannot raise the deposit needed I had a stall here before it was upgraded and what we used to pay was equivalent to $10 per month, now we are supposed to pay daily and the figure amounts to about $12 000 a month which is way high,” said Gogo Maphosa a well-known vegetable vendor in Gweru.
Kudzanayi and Kombayi markets closed in March 2020 following a Government directive to restore sanity in the city by building modern market stalls and proper ablution facilities. Government directed local authorities to take advantage of the lockdown to restore order in their cities.
About 300 vendors at Mtapa market used to use two mobile toilets that were hired every week at a cost of 180 USD from a local businesswoman, thus losing revenue as Gweru City Council as it was not providing required ablution facilities.
Residents fear history could repeat itself as Gweru was once hit by a Typhoid outbreak in 2018.
Furthermore, the country is experiencing a third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic and frequent washing hands under running water is one of the requirements in averting spread of the disease.
However, for Mtapa vendors it is business as usual putting their health and that of their customers at risk.
Although a toilet is under construction, scores of vendors are already operating, selling vegetables and food stuffs.
Section 77 of the constitution states that every citizen has a right to a clean and healthy environment, therefore the local authority is mandated to adequately provide these services to its citizens.
A lady operating at Mtapa market, Joyce Masvosva said it was difficult for women who need ablution facilities.
“There is no privacy, and one needs a lot of water during this time,” he said.
“The toilets are not user friendly for people living with disabilities, neither are they gender sensitive.
“Children opt to go to the thick grass near the railway line than use the mobile toilets.”
Gweru Mayor Josiah Makombe encouraged vendors to embrace the new facility which had world class standard operating facilities and sanitation services.
“Better facilities come with costs and vendors cannot escape. We are also working on upgrading Mtapa in the shortest possible time so that we can start collecting revenue,” he said.