By Pamenus Tuso
BULAWAYO’S informal traders have expressed concern over lack of ablution and children playing facilities at vending sites.
Most vending sites in the city do not have toilets and clean water facilities.
In one incident, a vendor was electrocuted while relieving herself inside a Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) substation located in a sanitary lane in the city centre.
In an interview with GovernanceWatch, Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association (BVTA) executive director, Michael Ndiweni, said his association has designed model vending bays, in a development aimed at addressing infrastructure challenges faced by informal traders in the city.
“As vendors representatives, we are concerned about the lack of toilets at market places. A vendor was … electrocuted while relieving herself in a sanitary lane because the toilets are not working at the market places,” Ndiweni said.
He implored the Bulawayo City Council to fix all malfunctioning toilets at vending sites, stressing that failure to do so would lead to a health hazard especially this rain season.
“The rainy season is now upon us and council should make sure that all the vending bays in the city have got adequate ablution facilities. We cannot have a situation where vendors especially women relieve themselves in sanitary lanes,” Ndiweni said.
The BVTA director also decried lack of children recreational facilities at vending bays. Several breast-feeding female vendors have now resorted to bringing their babies to their workplaces because they cannot afford to hire maids.
According to the Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy Associations (ZCIEA), around 70% of street vendors in the country are women, most of them divorced, widowed, disabled or homeless.
“There are no play centres at the market places. You see babies crawling to the roads while the mother is selling in a market stall. So there is need to really think about ways to ensure that there is a provision of play station for children for mothers in the informal trading so that we avoid children being almost run over by vehicles.
“Other developed countries are already providing these facilities at vending sites because this is a human rights issue on the part of the affected child,” Ndiweni said.
Bulawayo City Council deputy mayor councillor Mlandu Ncube, however, said the city’s vending regulations do not allow children to be at vending sites with their parents.
On the issue of toilets, Mlandu also insists that council has adequate toilets for vendors in the city.
“Normally all our vending places have toilets. We only have a challenge at 6 Avenue extension which was affected by the closure of eGodini, but the rest have toilets. Remember, we cannot have toilets everywhere in the city centre,” Mlandu said in an interview.
The vendors also cited lack of rubbish bins at vending bays as another challenge.
“In most cases, vendors have been unfairly blamed for littering the city. Most bays have limited or lack of waste receptors like polythene bins. Our association has been teaching our members on the three Rs which are Reduce, Recycle and Reuse,” Ndiweni added.