Monday, March 26, 2007
By TATENDA MALAN
A COMBINED team of state and Lusaka City Council police swung into action in the early hours of yesterday and demolished illegal trading structures in the central business district, two weeks after the municipality rescheduled the exercise. The team, which had sealed off the area, razed market stalls at town centre market, Chiparamba, Chachacha, Freedom Way and Lumumba roads. Make-shift stalls that choked sections of Chiparamba Road operated by informal traders were razed, leaving a clear passage from Chachacha to Lumumba roads.
Riot police blocked sections of Chachacha Road and Freedom Way, sealing-off the town centre market, making minibuses use Cairo and Lumumba roads. The central business district had a heavy police presence, with some on horseback, thwarting any trouble and denying people access to the town centre market. The operation began at 02:00 hours. Quick action by riot police dispersed an angry mob of marketeers that attempted to stone riot police officers on Lumumba Road.
A council front-end loader and trucks tore down the make-shift stalls and containerised shops and removed them. The sections of Freedom Way and Chachacha Road, which had been clogged by street vendors were left clear, a situation which has not existed in the last few years. LCC spokesperson, Chanda Makanta, said the operation was conducted as part of taking control of the city. "Our council officers protected by state police swung into action to bring sanity to the city," she said.
Last week, vendors and marketeers defied Town Clerk, Timothy Hakuyu's order to vacate their illegal stalls failure to which they would be forced out. The ultimatum lapsed two weeks ago. The council also gave an ultimatum to illegal car-cleaners to move out and pay phone vendors to demolish their structures.
Ms Makanta said that the council had temporarily called off the demolition exercise to avoid vendors mobilising themselves against the authorities. The council is offering alternative sites to most traders who have said the new locations are either already occupied or in places their customers would not reach them. But some vendors talked to said they were expecting the council to swing into action following the 24-hour ultimatum on Friday. Because of the impending demolition, most of them had moved their merchandise though there were claims of one women who was said to have lost some goods.
One trader, Olia Nabene, said the council had offered them an alternative site. "People have offer letters from the council but for some they have not been allocated the actual places to trade from," Mr Nabene said. Mr Nabene also said there was lack of communication as some people never got the notice which was issued on Friday around 15:00 hours. He, however, said he had no ill feelings because the council had allocated him a trading place outside Lusaka City Market.
And Harrison Phiri complained that the LCC was constructing modern markets where stalls had allegedly been allocated to foreigners at the expense of locals. "You see that market (town centre) was ours. Now you see we have been pushed out. Some of these foreigners got more than one shop. But before they constructed that market there were no Lebanese or Chinese people," Mr Phiri complained.
LCC ‘roars’ again...demolishing over 50 makeshift stalls
By SYLVIA MWEETWA
More than 50 makeshift stalls were razed in the Lusaka city centre in the continued crackdown on illegal structures. Police, enforced by colleagues from the Lusaka City Council (LCC) began the operation at midnight on Saturday, running into the early hours of yesterday. A bulldozer was used to plough though the structures, some of which were completely destroyed. The operation concentrated along corridors of Freedom Way, Chachacha, Lumumba and other busy roads that were sealed off by armed police officers in full riot gear.
Owners of the stalls and street vendors woke up to a rude shock in the morning when they found armed police had sealed off their trading places. They watched haplessly from afar as the bulldozer took its toll on their makeshift stalls. Over 300 police officers were deployed to maintain law and order. Traffic was diverted to other routes while people were not allowed to use the sealed off roads. Some people talked to commended the council for removing the stalls, which they said, portrayed a bad picture of the city, apart from being a health hazard.
An on-the-spot check by the Times at about 06:00 hours yesterday found the bulldozer at work.
Phone booths and stalls used for selling compact discs and audio tapes were taken to an unknown place for possible destruction.
Lusaka Province police chief, Wasakaza Ng’uni, who led the operation, said police officers had been deployed to maintain law and order. Mr Ng’uni said the officers would continue to monitor the situation and warned that lawlessness would not be allowed. Mr Ng’uni was happy police received no resistance from the “victims”. Last week, the council razed stalls on Chiparamba road, but two days later the structures were reconstructed.
An affected trader, Mable Mwangala, who spoke on behalf of her colleagues, said Government and the LCC in particular, should have given them enough time to relocate. Ms Mwangala said most of the traders were not able to pay the amount of money the council was asking for, hence their initiative to trade from makeshift stalls. The traders and vendors had been ignoring advice from the council to stop trading from illegal stalls for a long time.
LCC public relations officer, Chanda Makanta, said the council was aware of the expectations from the public to keep Lusaka clean and therefore, remained committed to ensuring that sanity returned to the capital city.