Thursday, July 7, 2022

Vendors forcefully moved from their places of operation

Hardly a month after the North West District Council’s leadership had publicly apologized for having forcefully evicted street vendors from their places of operation, the by-law office has reportedly issued letters calling for the permanent removal of the said people from their respective places of operation.

When passing his apology at a full council meeting last week, NWD Council Secretary, Kwele Puso, had promised to call a meeting, at which issues concerning this group of people were to be discussed and their differences with council ironed out. He had also told council that although the demolitions issue was a very sensitive matter, people need to be made to understand the fact that a hawker’s license does not guarantee the right to put up permanent structures as that would be a violation of what they had previously agreed on and signed for at the time when they were issued such licenses. And just when they least expected it, and before the promised meeting was called, the hawkers were issued with letters instructing that they should leave.

The news reached a sub council sitting this week, where councilors were up in arms, demanding to know why such treatment should be bestowed on people who are out trying hard to make something out of their lives.

They said officials from the by-law office have a growing habit of always making decisions and making inferior conclusions, and should therefore be held responsible as they are at fault.
Another accusation leveled at the sub council management was that councilors are themselves never consulted on issues which they always feel are of serious concern and thereby might end up impacting on innocent people.

What they (councilors) failed to do, however, was to look further and see if the hawkers were abiding by what is stipulated in the issued licenses. It has also become apparent that some of the people selling at the mall and any other places in Maun are not in possession of any of the required licenses, something which the by-law office is yet to follow up through their routine checks.

“The decision to demolish these structures as per council by-laws was met after there had been an observation that they were on road reserves, and as a result obstructed traffic. Working together with the council’s physical planning unit, we have identified a small place at the old mall, where we hope to move all street vendors. We recently had a meeting as council management so as to further discuss this issue, also taking into consideration the fact that even as we are moving them, we still have not secured alternative places besides the one in the old mall. Although some are in tolerable places, we still feel they need to restructure them so as to give the town center a better look,” said Mhapha.

Matlapana councilor, Tapoloso Mosika, rubbished claims by fellow councilors that by-law officials are to blame. He said consultation amongst government departments has never been seen as a priority, not only in Maun, but the rest of the country.

“Our by-law officers are only acting on instruction from the ministry and there is no way they can change what they were instructed to do. Mind you, they are only doing their job and there is no need for any of us to point fingers at them. We all know they are following orders, so we need to spare them on this one,” he said.

Mhapha also talked of some legally gazetted settlements in the district, amongst them Nxaraga, Chanoga and Sexaxa which, however, still remain un- serviced as there are no basic needs such as water, clinics, schools, to mention but a few.

He said because of insufficient funds to even push pending projects in Maun alone, both MAA and council headquarters (NWDC) have not been able to address the demands of people living in these places.

Most councilors were of the view that because money is always an issue at MAA, then the sub council should at least stop gazeting as they have already failed at existing settlements.

They said unlike others countrywide, the North West District should be at the forefront with developments as it is a tourism area that has also been blessed with natural resources whose proceeds should be used to back up the now ailing budget.

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