Residents are fretting over a one week ultimatum issued by the Harare City Council for illegal tuckshop owners to stop operating or risk having their tuckshops demolished.
The ultimatum, which lapses on Thursday, was issued after the realisation that the illegal tuckshops were defying the law by operating during the level four lockdown imposed by Government.
Council corporate communications manager Mr Michael Chideme, who issued the ultimatum on behalf of council said some of the illegal tuckshops were built on road verges and public spaces while others were causing flooding as they are blocking runoff.
Some of the residents interviewed by The Herald said the decision by council was ill-advised because the illegal tuck shops are providing essential services.
“Most of the suburbs that are coming up are far away from major shops and as such residents rely on tuckshops for their daily provisions and in such cases council should not just move in to destroy tuck shops without providing an alternative,” said one resident.
Speaking on behalf of the residents, Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) said council was being insensitive to the plight of residents especially during this time when the country is under lockdown.
“We are worried by the continued failure by the City of Harare to recognise the informal sector as a potential revenue stream and contributor to its budget,” said CHRA in a statement.
“It is disappointing that the local authority has taken advantage of the closing of civic space by unilaterally making outrage and unreasonable decisions which have dire consequences on residents.”
The association said while it appreciates the intention of council to bring order and sanity in terms of market stalls and tuck-shops it condemns the manner in which this was being done without broader consultations and engagement.
“We warn that any city planning that is devoid of local contextual needs is a catalyst towards propagating inequalities.
“We are also aware that in complying with the Cabinet directive last year, Harare City Council demolished makeshift stalls and tuckshops at Kamunhu Shopping Centre, Mabvuku, but soon after the demolitions some of it officials spearheaded re-allocation of vending spaces.”
The association said that council must defer the demolitions and engage players in the informal sector.
It said the local authority needed expedite and complete the process of coming up with its own master plan since the current Master Plan was last reviewed and updated in 1993, and the reviewed Master Plan must include the informal sector.