Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Reporter
The Bulawayo City Council (BCC) intends to ban push carts, commonly known as “Scanias”, from operating in the city center while criminalizing the display of goods on city sidewalks, sparking a outcry from those involved.
The local authority wants to repeal the Bulawayo (clamping and towing) regulations 2006 published in Statutory Instrument 231 of 2006 and the city clamping and towing regulations 2015 published in Statutory Instrument 63 of 2015 and the Bulawayo (Roads and Traffic) Regulations 1978.
In the event that the proposed regulations are passed, those who violate the regulations will be subject to prosecution with their properties confiscated.
Handcart operators make a living by transporting goods primarily for market vendors to various destinations in the city.
Under the Bulawayo (Municipal Roads and Traffic Laws) Bill (fixed offenses and penalties) and Clamp and Tow Lane Regulations 2022, push carts will not be permitted in the city center with a violation of the proposed regulations attracting a standard fine and seizure costs.
According to Article 8 of the draft regulations, goods displayed on the sidewalk will be removed and confiscated and fined at level 3 per article.
Most of the people displaying goods are street vendors operating on several busy sidewalks dotted around the city center.
Under the new proposals, handcarts will not be permitted in the part of downtown bounded by 3rd Avenue, Lobengula Street, 12th Avenue and R. Mugabe Way.
“Push carts will not be permitted in the portion of the Central Business District bounded by 3rd Avenue, Lobengula Street, 12th Avenue and R. Mugabe Way. Any violation will result in a level one fine plus impoundment charges,” reads section 7(g) of the proposed regulations.
“Goods displayed on the sidewalk will be removed and seized and charged a level 3 fine per item.”
In separate interviews, push cart operators said the proposed laws would push them out of business. They urged the council to consider regulating their industry by introducing operator licensing to restore sanity.
“We survive on this business and you will realize that some of us are actually professionals, but because of unemployment we ended up resorting to push carts. I am actually a qualified builder and I have a family to take care of which is why I implore BCC to at least come up with terms and conditions on how we should operate,” Mr Elson said. Moyo.
Another handcart operator, Mr Cosmos Dube, said the proposed regulations will not deter them from operating in the city center given the difficult economic environment prevailing in the country.
“They can come up with these settlements, but we won’t stop because that’s how we make a living. In fact, we have always been involved in a game of cat and mouse with the municipal police and nothing will change even if the council introduces new regulations. This business is what makes us put food on the table,” he said.
Mr Gift Khumalo urged council to regulate the business instead of banning handcart operators from the town center altogether.
“I appreciate the need to put in place decongestion measures in the city centre, including the introduction of parking charges for cars, but I am of the opinion that the local authority should have a human face in allowing us to operate in the main business district,” he said.
“In my case, I generally target travelers who are going to disembark cross-border buses and these buses disembark in the city center. Pulling us out of the city center means I will be bankrupt because there are no drop off areas for these buses on the outskirts of the city centre.
Ms. Monica Ngwenya, a street vendor, said, “I earn my living selling my wares on the verandas of shops and that’s how I take my children to school and pay the municipal tariffs. Pulling me off the sidewalks means I will have challenges in terms of paying water bills and tariffs, among other things. “- @skhumoyo2000