Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter
VICTORIA Falls Traders Association (VFTA) has complained about an influx of illegal traders who sell door-to-door and on the streets taking away business.
VFTA members have threatened to boycott renewing annual licences and paying for rates if the authorities fail to remove hawkers from the streets.
They said there are traders from other towns who visit Victoria Falls and sell goods on the streets before catching the next bus back to their respective areas without paying rates and licences.
Each day scores of hawkers throng Victoria Falls from Livingstone in Zambia and sell their goods on the streets and around houses much to the chagrin of registered vendors who operate from designated areas.
Vendors operating from designated vending sites reportedly pay US$20 annual licence fees while shop licences range between US$100 and US$600 for small boutiques and grocery shops.
Vending stalls are also expected to pay monthly rentals, some ranging up to US$20.
VFTA chair Mr Ian Sibanda said they want illegal vendors removed from the streets to bring sanity to the city.
Illegal vendors also trade in front of OK, TM Pick and Pay, Ok Mart, Comesa Market and other shops.
“We have a challenge with traders who sell all over the city while those who pay licences fees and rates are glued on vending stalls without any business anymore. The city authorities want their fees in United States dollars but nothing is being done to protect us so we have agreed as members that the council should first deal with this issue before demanding any fees from us because everyone of us is not happy,” said Mr Sibanda.
He implored the local authority to accept payment in local currency.
Mr Sibanda said vendors had approached the Victoria Falls Town Clerk’s office over the issue and a meeting has been set for end of this week.
Zambian hawkers use daily border passes to enter the Victoria Falls Border.
“We are concerned because Zambians bring the same products that locals sell here and move door to door taking all customers. We wonder how they cross the border with these products especially agricultural products because we are restricted from doing so by the law.
“At the end of the day we lose business and the fees demanded by the council become too exorbitant for us. We want a meeting with all stakeholders including council, immigration and police so that this issue is looked into,” said Mr Sibanda.
Ms Gugu Ndlovu who operates a shop behind Maminza Mall said she lost a lot of business to illegal traders during the back-to-school rush as Zambians brought stationers at low prices.
She said some dealers from Harare and Bulawayo also come to sell goods and go without being made to pay trading fees, thereby depriving locals of business.
“We have people from outside Victoria Falls who don’t spend time or night here, but they come to collect money and go since they sell at order price which we cannot do.
“We also have Zambians who use border passes and we don’t know what facility is there that allows them to sell goods because we cannot do that in other countries. They sell door-to-door and pay nothing to the council while those who support the local authority with revenue are confined to where there is no business because we observe the law,” complained Ms Ndlovu.
Ms Ndlovu implored authorities to enforce laws at the entry point to deal with the issue.
She said the council and police should also impose stiffer penalties on illegal traders.
Victoria Falls City Council authorities recently said efforts were being made to update by-laws, to address the issue of illegal vending.
Article Source: The Chronicle