Friday, June 21, 2024

Minister provides mixed response on eviction of vendors

The Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Kgotla Autlwetse said his ministry is not aware that the Francistown City Council took a decision to evict the informal traders from the Central Market.

“However, I am aware that the Council took a decision to relocate the Central Market occupants to pave way for face-lifting of the Urban Core, which includes the Central Market and other related activities,” the Minister told Parliament last week.

Prior to that, the Council engaged extensively with the then occupants who obliged and moved out to other Council stalls at the bus terminal, airport, Somerset and Aerodrome located around the City. He said it is unfortunate that the relocated occupants returned to the Central Market and are currently occupying the space illegally.

Autlwetse said the Francistown City Council undertook a trip to Zimbabwe (Bulawayo) to benchmark under the twinning arrangements with the Zimbabwean Municipalities on how they are handling challenges affecting the youth, not Informal Sector.

“The Council had an internal Youth Committee which was spearheading the excursion and upon return, a number of recommendations were made which among others, supported the redevelopment of the City Core including Central Market,” he said.  The minister said he was aware that City of Francistown is characterized by high density low income areas whose dwellers are mainly informal traders.

“This situation is not peculiar to the City of Francistown but characterizes all urban areas in Botswana including developing Countries.  It is worth noting that Central market has only 50 stalls,” he said.

He said his Ministry has provided central market traders with alternative market places to occupy at the bus terminal, airport, Somerset and Aerodrome located around the City.

He said the Francistown City Council recognizes the role played by informal sector to grow the City’s economy and improve livelihoods of its residents.

“A number of initiatives have been developed including Informal Sector Strategy and Guidelines to manage, activate, organize and grow the informal sector in the City. The City Council with the assistance of UNDP and its stakeholders including the Informal Sector Association, has been consulting on the new Informal Sector Strategy and Bye-Laws which are at an advanced stage,” he said.

Autlwetse said the mixed use is envisaged to encompass various sectors which will enhance value chain development that will yield job opportunities than its current status.

Aultwetse said the Ipelegeng programme’s main objective stated in the “Revised Guidelines for the Implementation of the Ipelegeng Programme of 2012” is to provide relief to beneficiaries while at the same time carrying out essential development projects. In the City of Francistown Council, the programme is implemented in the same manner of providing relief to Batswana aged 18 years and above.

He said to ensure equity among Batswana, those who are already benefiting from other relief programs like poverty eradication and permanent registered destitute persons, are excluded from Ipelegeng programme to avoid “double dipping”.

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