On June 26, over a thousand informal traders marched to protest against Ethekwini municipality for better service delivery and working conditions for informal traders. Ubumbano Traders Alliance delivered a memorandum to the Mayors Office on behalf of the informal traders.
Ubumbano and Phillip Sithole from the Business Unit agreed to have a meeting. This has not yet happened. While waiting for responses to the memorandum, officials were instructed two days later (28 June), to close down the stalls of street traders who owed rent money. Officials were also instructed to close down the storerooms.
Jabulani Ntsele, Chairman for Ubumbano says that the traders were upset, as the officials did not follow correct procedures as Ubumbano was waiting for a response by the Mayor and the City Manager.
“Ubumbano did not agree with the Ethekwini Municipality Informal Economy Forum(EMIEF) to increase the rent. The municipality has to upgrade the trading sites as there are no facilities such as toilets, water, shelters and in some areas there should be storerooms. After this has been done, then we should talk about tariff increases.”
Ubumbano had engaged with the municipal ward councilors, Street Committees and Business Support last year, where a walk-about was done and they could inspect and observe the working conditions of the Street traders. The outcome of this was that all who was present agreed with the Street Committees that they would address the concerns and working conditions of the street traders with the relevant authorities. An action plan will be drawn out to help change and improve the working conditions of the informal workers. Nothing has happened so far, even though there has been numerous meetings and this is the second time were informal workers have taken to the streets to protest their dissatisfaction with the municipality.
Follow-up letters were written to the Mayor, James Nxumalo and to the Business Support Unit, Phillip Sithole and Thulani Nzama.
Pearl Olatunde, Secretary of Ubumbano who is also a Street trader says that the municipality is fully aware of the problems the traders are facing. “The municipality must honour their agreement to help fix the poor working conditions and address the issue of rent increases when they have provided proper facilities. They are currently forcing traders to pay rent and if not, we are not allowed to trade. The municipality has to also consider that workers in the informal economy are in this trade as they do not have a source of income and as a trader myself I do not earn money everyday. There are many women who are breadwinners for their family. They should work with us as people in the informal economy play an important role and we also try to be independent and earn our own bread and butter, “ she said.
To view the detailed memorandum and information on the march which was held on the 26 June, please click on this link – www.streetnet.org.za/show.php?id=528
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