Lusaka City Market was yesterday morning closed following a standoff between the traders and the street vendors who are interfering in business at the market.
Lusaka City Mayor Daniel Chisenga, announcing the closure, said street vendors have taken advantage of the PF government’s tolerance by trading everywhere even around sensitive areas like the banks.
Mr. Chisenga said the temporary closure was to allow for calm to return to the market after traders protests turned into near riots at the trading place. “It’s a temporary closure; we just want to calm the situation and not something permanent. The traders inside the market protested against the vendors whom they accused of interfering in the flow of their businesses,” he said.
He charged that street vendors have taken advantage of the PF’s tolerance when it comes to their business, but that government was already working on a Statutory Instrument to regulate them. The Mayor has disclosed that the Ministry of Local Government and Housing has already reached advanced stages in formulating the SI to regulate vending operations in the country. “All work has been done, and we are just waiting for the Minister to sign the SI instructing the vendors on how to go about their trade, where to trade and also the financial obligations that go with street vending,” he explained.
He said the SI should help bring sanity to the streets where vendors shall be compelled to pay some money in accordance with the regulation unlike the current system, that has no restrictions. A Local Government deputy Minister John Kufuna visited the market where he addressed the marketeers on their grievances with the presence of street vendors. Mayor Chisenga has since assured Lusaka residents and traders that City Market will be opened to normal operations this morning.
And Lusaka District Commissioner Ashwell Kampengele attributed the confusion at City Market to the presence of call boys who have continued to manipulate minibus operations and the vendors at the marketplace.
“There is no way government is going to dance to the tune of call boys and the vendors’ manipulations,” he said.
Minibus drivers and street vendors have continuously complained about harassment from the call boys who were mostly PF cadres and were siphoning huge amounts of moneys from the traders for their pockets.