Hundreds of vendors and informal traders marched to the Provincial Legislature on Wednesday afternoon demanding that the provincial government address the grievances faced by these traders on a daily basis. Informal traders affiliated to the South African Informal Traders Alliance (SAITA) said traders are working under bad conditions in various parts of the city. They are demanding equal rights to workers in the formal sector.
One trader from the Bishop Lavis Informal Traders Association said they lack the proper infrastructure above the Metrorail station where they trade.
“We don’t even have the right infrastructure or water or toilets, we stand in the rain, so for us it is a day to day struggle,” said the trader.
She added that the march was actually not very well supported, but they were grateful to Rasheda Muller for organising the march.
Organisations, representing informal traders, led this protest which is going to be held nationwide to highlight the plight of these traders. A memorandum was handed over to Premier Helen Zille’s spokesperson Michael Mpofu. The traders gave the provincial government a timeframe of 30 days in which to respond to their grievances or another march is to be held.
“We are going for a bigger march and we will take this a step further,” said one protestor in the crowd.
Shamiela Edwards who also trades on the deck above the train station says that the traders share one toilet for every 540 traders.
“On each corner we have merchants selling drugs and we are too scared to tell them to leave because if we do then there is going to be a fight,” explained Edwards.
“So that is what the march was about, the safety and security of the traders and the infrastructure and it should be regulated from the provincial government.”
On the lack of support at the protest, the protestors said Wednesdays are busy days for vendors and this could be the reason why people were unable to attend the march.
“But I feel like we were enough to make a difference.” VOC (Umarah Hartley)