Durban: Removal date of market traders is postponed

1 June 2009

"Removal date postponed. Market traders will go, vows city",

by Sinegugu Ndlovu, The Mercury, Edition 2

THE eThekwini Municipality says that ratepayers would have had to fund the development of Durban`s Warwick Junction if it had not been for private developers.

This after a tense clash between Metro Police and Early Morning Market traders protesting against their removal from the area on Saturday night to make way for a R400 million development, which would include a mall.

The traders are to be re- located to a temporary trading area comprised of two marquees, which would accommodate about 300 people each, at the corner of Market Road and Alice Street.

More traders would be accommodated at another building currently under renovation.

Last week, the traders were given notice to vacate the market by the end of business on Saturday. However, they vowed not to leave, promising to fight to the bitter end.

Sleep-in

The city had granted them permission to hold a sleep-in at the market on condition that only traders participated. However, the municipality learnt that other people had joined in the protest.

A clash occurred when metro police moved in to remove non-traders, who apparently refused to leave.

The municipality confirmed that the removal of the traders had been postponed until Wednesday, when the city would meet them.

Phillip Sithole, head of the city`s Business Support and Markets Unit, said that while the city wanted to avoid unnecessary violence, it would proceed with the development.

He said the city had been patient with the traders as the development should have started in April.

"They definitely won`t operate there (at the Early Morning Market) in the near future. We are negotiating because we don`t want to be seen as insensitive to people who are trying to make a living. The new site is big enough to operate in," he said.

Sithole said a "reasonable" amount of money would be used to market the new temporary trading area.

"We regret what happened on Saturday and hope there won`t be a repeat. We`re appealing for the traders to be reasonable when we negotiate. We`re talking about millions in private investment capital.

"We are always trying to get investment for depressed areas, especially Warwick Junction.

"The developers have been very reasonable because informal traders will be allowed to operate in the development.

"We`ve worked very hard for this investment. Who will invest in the area if the current investor doesn`t?

"Our mandate is to take into consideration the interests of everyone within the municipality`s boundary. The commuters, contractors; everyone will benefit from this," said Sithole.

He said the traders were being relocated a short distance from their present position.

Sithole took exception with the media, saying the city was being portrayed as abusing the traders.

"What about the unemployed child in KwaMashu (who will be employed in the development)?" he said.

"Here`s a local investor with a black economic empowerment element saying other people should make money and why not? Because we have to protect the market? We`re just relocating (the traders).

"The media says we`re being insensitive but time will tell. We believe we are doing the right thing.

"I don`t believe ratepayers should fork out millions of rands (for Warwick Junction) when an investor can. eThekwini will also get rates from this development," he said.