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Informal traders have their say

A meeting of informal traders in the Philippi East area has given traders an opportunity to express their views on the impact of changes coming to the area that are likely to affect their business operations in the near future.

Traders were invited to an information-sharing session at the Ruth First Community Hall which was hosted by the Philippi Economic Development Initiative, with support from Subcouncil 13. At the meeting PEDI CEO Thomas Swana addressed the traders on the role of PEDI and the role the organisation could play in assisting informal traders.

Subcouncil 13 chairman Lunga Bobo opened the meeting and explained that the meeting aimed to seek input from traders on changes that were planned. Among those present were Hillman Magqaza and Paul Williamson, representing the City of Cape Town’s Economic Development Department. Both have extensive experience in Informal Trading planning for the City.

The meeting was held as a first step to assess whether traders would find it useful to have a platform for a coordinated voice that could engage with city officials and planners on their behalf, especially in relation to plans for the redevelopment of Philippi East.

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The very positive response from participants showed that traders have many concerns that they hope to have answered. One question that was raised by several participants was what would happen to their trading options once the roads upgrades for the MyCiti bus system had been completed. Many people trade on the roadside which will be incorporated into the expanded road network for the buses. Traders asked where they would be able to trade once this happened.

Traders also noted that they had difficulty in engaging with city departments, saying it was often difficult to find the correct officials to engage with, and when they did reach officials, they were not always given a hearing. The traders were encouraged that PEDI is now available to assist them in dealing with the City in the future.

The traders welcomed the idea of an umbrella traders’ organisation but felt it would be wrong for such an organisation to try to take over the role of existing trader organisations. Rather, it was felt that such an organisation would be useful if it served to support the existing organisations in interacting with the city.

Further meetings will be held with the traders to take the discussion forward.

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