Traders ‘snubbed’ at City meeting

SOYISO MALITI

A group of traders have accused the City of excluding them from a meeting with its economic development directorate, which they had hoped would iron out their complaints about trading arrangements at the Kuils River Shoprite shopping centre parking lot.

Isaac Jencke, of the Kuils River Shoprite Area Traders’ Association (KSATA), said they wanted to know why traders had to pay another trading association to use the City-owned land.

KSATA members broke away from the Kuils River Informal Traders’ Association (KITA) which they had been paying to use the space.

Mr Jencke said it was curious that only Kita had been invited to the meeting with the directorate in Kuils River last month, while KSATA had been left out, especially given the number of issues they would have raised. Apart from the issue of the payments to Kita, they had also hoped to address overcrowding, inadequate parking, consistency in allocating space for traders, among other issues.

“We weren’t notified of the meeting, and when we heard about it from one of the traders, it was already too late to gather one another,” he said.

In late March, traders complained about having to pay Kita varying fees for trading at the parking lot, which the City had declared free-to-trade (“Traders tussle over markert’s management,” Northern News, March 23).

Mathys Markgraaf, secretary of the Kuils River Civic Association (KRCA), said there was always conflict for spots at the parking lot, something that would have been discussed had the association not been left out.

He found it puzzling that the City had only met with one of the trading associations.

“They had to liaise with both parties to solve such problems,” he said.

The KRCA, he said, had raised issues on how to designate spots for traders in a meeting earlier this year in Sub-council 21.

However, Garreth Bloor, the mayoral committee member for tourism, events and economic development, said there had been no intention on the City’s part to exclude the KSATA. He said the directorate would look into why the association had not been included in the meeting but it might have been due to a “miscommunication.”

The complaint came amid the City hosting several round-table discussions with informal traders across the metro.

More than 50 informal traders from Kuils River, Eerste River, Blue Downs, Blackheath, Happy Valley and the Wesbank catchment area attended the session, Mr Bloor said, on Thursday May 5, to find “workable solutions” to concerns and discuss a range of issues, including economic development, crime and the enhancement of public space.

“When we look at the bigger picture and at the economy in its entirety, the informal sector is a source of employment for 161 000 individuals or 11.3 percent of the total workforce in Cape Town,” said Mr Bloor.

“We will continue to work with the traders to look at how to create a more conducive environment for informal trading.”

He said 13 round-table sessions had been held since October last year and nine more were scheduled to take place by the end of June.