Editor's Comment

Let’s clear vendors

STREET vending has been a major problem for Zambia for a long time.  Efforts to curb the menace have largely failed with local authorities constantly falling short of the expectations of the larger population.
This has resulted in congestion in various parts of towns and cities, especially the respective central business districts (CBDs).  In many towns and cities the passages are clogged with vendors, leaving little room for people to walk along the shop corridors.
Often, one gets the impression that the cities and towns are poorly planned, yet the reality is that there just isn’t proper control of the street vendors.
And because of this lack of control, some vendors have literally taken over the streets and are adversely affecting other businesses, especially in the CBDs.
It is now a common sight, in Lusaka for instance, to see vendors selling their goods right in front of office and shop entrances.  Some of these vendors even operate from car parking slots.
The crowded streets are fertile ground for crime and the spread of diseases, especially that there are inadequate sanitation facilities, if any.
It is because of such a scenario that some businesses are opting to relocate to areas where their customers would have peace of mind.
We therefore welcome the Lusaka City Council (LCC) for resolving to find a permanent solution for this problem.
Two weeks ago, the LCC during a full council meeting agreed to clear street vendors in the CBD of the city and identified a piece of land to relocate the vendors.
This is a good initiative because shoppers and visitors need a conducive environment for their activities.
There, however, seems to be some resistance by some vendors already.  They claim they need proper selling points.  These vendors should realise that they should adhere to council regulations.
There is no way that the law should be applied selectively, especially not with a matter that could degenerate into further chaos.
Lusaka, like all other cities and towns, must pride itself as clean and safe for all.  Vendors, especially in their unchecked manner, are not adding any value to the quest to make Zambia clean and healthy.
It is good too that more shopping and business centres are opening across the country in cities like Lusaka, Ndola. Kitwe and Livingstone.
These infrastructure developments should help decongest the respective CBDs but it is important to also immediately keep vendors away.
Tolerating a few around these new centres is a recipe for inviting chaos as in no time more would flood the areas and local authorities will begin to grapple with the problem all over again.
Let’s use designated trading centres not only for selling but also for buying the goods.  Many people encourage street vending by buying from these traders.
The LCC, and all other authorities, must be supported in restoring sanity on the streets.  It can be done.


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