The Kabwe Municipal council has managed to relocate the over 150 street vendors who were trading at the notorious railway crossing premises to pave way for the ongoing road expansion project, a move which has since cheered the street vendors’ president Ted Sinkala.
And the United Street Vendors Foundation (USVEF) has thanked President Edgar Lungu for initiating the marketeers’ empowerment fund which would allow the market traders to obtain loans from the fund so as to boost their businesses.
The move to relocate the vendors follows some request by the contractor Sable Transport to create space for the road works.
Initially, the vendors resisted relocation but after a meeting between the council and the USVEF, they were relocated inside the Zambia Railways yard pending a final trading place to be given by the local authority.
Mr. Sinkala thanked the local authority and the vendors for taking the initiative so that a development project could be carried out.
He said his members would cooperate and that the diplomacy employed by the council was what was needed to achieve mutual understanding.
“It appears to be difficult to move vendors but what is important is dialogue and diplomacy. We had some meetings with the director of housing and social services Mrs Pamela Zulu and we managed to have the vendors relocated after I addressed them. We have also been promised some permanent land for trading somewhere. We hope the council will expedite that,” Mr. Sinkala said.
Government has embarked upon a project to expand the Great North Road in a bid to decongest the road and tentatively reduce on road accidents.
The expansion project expected to expand the stretch of the road from Chibombo to Kapiri Mposhi comes as a stand-in for the planned dual carriage way from Lusaka to the Copperbelt, expected to be included in the Seventh National Development Plan.
Meanwhile Mr. Sinkala has praised President Lungu for the recently launched Marketeers’ Empowerment Fund and asked that it be rolled out to the provinces quickly.
He was hopeful that with the fund, a number of market traders would have their businesses boosted because most of them have lacked adequate working capital for a long time.
“We welcome the President’s initiative to give small loans to market traders. We hope after its launch on the Copperbelt, it shall quickly be rolled out to other areas. Marketeers have for a long time lacked adequate funding as there are no institutions readily willing to assist them mainly due to lack of collateral. I would urge the recipients to utilise these well intended funds properly, grow their business and allow others to benefit also,” Mr. Sinkala said.
Last month, President Lungu launched the scheme which he said was aimed at empowering the marketeers.
So far a number of Copperbelt-based traders have benefitted from the loans which are expected to be rolled out to other parts of the country.