Gweru proposes 73% vendor penalty fee hike

Source: Gweru proposes 73% vendor penalty fee hike – The Southern Eye

GWERU City Council has proposed a 73% hike in penalty fees for illegal vending in its next year’s budget.

Speaking at a budget consultative meeting, assistant finance director Owen Masimba urged vendors to register with the local authority to regularise their operations.

“Council proposes to increase illegal hawkers’ penalty from US$33,28 to US$57,50 and illegal vendors’ penalty from US$20,80 to US$35,08,” he said. The increase on illegal vending represents 73%, while the illegal hawking penalty rose 69%.

“In order for informal traders to end the cat and mouse chase with municipal police they should be properly registered and operate at registered vending sites.”

Cat-and-mouse games between municipal police and illegal vendors have become a daily routine with the latter risking their lives as they run through traffic to evade the confiscation of their wares by council officials.

Masimba said council also proposed to make a “slight” increase in vendors’ licensing fees.

“We also propose to adjust the hawkers annual licence from US$33,28 to US$38,27 while the vendors licence per annum will be increased from US$20,80 to US$23,92,” Masimba said.

“Renewal licence for hawkers should also be adjusted by the same margin from US$20,80 to US$23,92 per year, while that of vendors will be increased from US$10,40 to US$11,96.”

Masimba said the local authority was committed to improving the operating environment for informal traders by availing appropriate structures and vending bays.

“We want to speed up the construction of vendor marts for Mutapa markets and put proper ablution facilities,” he said.

The Midlands capital is failing to accommodate more than 5 000 informal traders on the waiting list as reconstruction of sites demolished during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 is yet to be completed.

Gweru Hawkers and Vendors Association chairperson Lovemore Tingaka, however, said increasing the vending licence and penalty fees was not the solution.

“Council should just speed up establishing proper vending markets that accommodate those who want to venture into informal trading,” he said.

“If facilities are there then they can start penalising those who defy by-laws. As for the so-called proposed slight increases for vending licences, it’s totally unnecessary given the economic hardships faced by people.”

Closure of major industries in Gweru, like any other  city in the country, has triggered the proliferation of vendors.