Traders tussle over market’s management

SOYISO MALITI

Traders at the Kuils River Shoprite shopping centre have expressed their discontent over having to pay to trade, inconsistencies in accepting new traders, and poorly demarcated trading bays.

The traders say the City of Cape Town has allowed them to trade freely at the flea market, but the Kuils River Informal Trading Association (KITA) has been making them pay between R25 and R35 a week, among other “inconsistencies”.

Other traders said they paid R25 a week to trade.

After taking Northern News on a tour to highlight the problems they face, Selena van der Walt, a leader of the traders, said their problems get compounded on the weekend, when new faces pop up to do business.

The weekend traders come with “concessions” made by Kita to pay a trading fee and then get to use any of the bays for their stands on weekends, which often is the cause of fights among the traders on busy days at the shopping centre.

The traders claim Kita allows a family to trade with several stands at the flea market, making it difficult for other traders to find space.

Johan Lourens, Kuils River Shoprite shopping centre manager, said chaos erupts every weekend at the adjacent parking and trading bays, spilling over to the centre.

“We’ve been speaking to the council about it, and they keep on saying they will deal with it,” he said.

Since last year, there has been no feedback from the City, Mr Lourens said.

The state of line markings for the bays only inflamed the situation and caused traders to jostle for places, he said.

The Northern News saw at least one bakkie, parked in a proper bay, encroach on a stand while offloading goods on a trader’s spot.

Xoliswa Buswana, who sells take-away foods from a mini caravan, said she pays R35 a month. She said she doesn’t know why others pay and why others pay differently.

There are more than 100 traders at the flea market, according to the Kuils River Civic Association (KRCA).

“We don’t know why we pay, and it hasn’t been explained to us,” Ms Buswana said.

She said the payment was inconvenient, especially because there haven’t been any developments, such as tar resurfacing and improved line markings, at the flea market.

Another trader, Sylvia Nkume who sells take-away food, said the sand on the market’s pavements got into the meals they have on display.

She said the money should go to tarring the pavements instead. “They should also give us permanent stands,” Ms Nkume said.

Traders said the flea market “lacked dignity” and had new faces every day, “which means something isn’t right”, Ms Nkume added.

They said other associations don’t make their traders pay.

KRCA chairman, Isaac Jenecke, said Kita was committing a crime by making traders pay. “The bays are (incorrectly marked).

“Traders have to move when cars are trying to park because the bays and stands are close to one another,” he said, adding it was increasingly difficult to distinguish between a bay meant for trading and one for parking.

Mr Jenecke said this caused traders to scatter around the centre, trading where they’re not supposed to.

DA Ward 11 councillor, Jacob Jacobs, said he was aware that traders weren’t supposed to pay fees.

He said after a meeting with the traders, he had proposed a meeting with both Kita and the traders because the traders’ concerns were valid.

“We will ask Kita why (traders) are paying. Kita has questions to answer too; the land belongs to the City, not Kita,” Mr Jacobs said, adding that the City is dealing with the matter.

He said the traders had been at the flea market since he started working for the City in the 1990s. (“Informal traders help grow the economy,” Northern News, November 25 2015).

When told that residents had also complained about the state of the flea market, Mr Jacobs said Kita should meet with him and the residents.

Approached by Northern News for comment, the City said it had no formal trading plan for the area as yet. Gareth Bloor, the Mayco member for tourism, events and economic development, said the City council issues concession letters to manage the traders at the flea market, for which there is no charge.

“The traders have elected representatives to make up the three trader associations in the area to assist the City in managing the market.

“Each association has its own rules and regulations and way of operating which the City does not interfere with.

“The City is moving towards the development of an informal trading plan for the area as well as appointing a market manager to manage informal trading in the area,” Mr Bloor said.

Ron November, Kita chairman, said he had not been at the flea market “in a long time”.

When queried why the traders paid despite a free trade concession from the City, Mr November said he would have to consult with his predecessor and “with the executive” before responding to our query in detail.

He would not elaborate on who they were or what the monies collected were used for and said he needed two to three days to respond.