Traders call for the return of Green Point market

Rosheda Muller, of the South African Informal Traders Alliance, at the march in Cape Town last week. Informal traders demanded more inclusion in the local economy and safety.

Informal traders who marched to the Western Cape legislature in Wale Street, Cape Town, on Wednesday July 12, called for a return of the old Green Point market.

The market was closed in 2009 due to the construction of the new Cape Town Stadium for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

The march was part of a nationwide protest by traders who are demanding more inclusion in the local economy.

Rosheda Muller, acting president of the South African Informal Traders’ Alliance in the Western Cape, said traders needed greater support.

“The informal sector needs to be acknowledged for the contribution we make to the alleviation of poverty and the creation of jobs in our sector,” she said.

She said they had been in contact with the City of Cape Town about a return to Green Point since their eviction in 2009.

“We are hoping for a return (to Green Point) soon,” she said.

Ms Muller, who has been an informal trader since 1987 when she was retrenched, said infrastructure also needed to be improved.

“There is a lack of infrastructure and when it rains or the wind blows too hard we cannot trade. Drug peddling and crime is also rife in Cape Town markets, especially at the Grand Parade and Cape Town station.”

Ms Muller, who trades in Blue Downs, added that they had received recognition that they were an important business sector but called for more inclusion in the economy and decision making. “We are currently in liaison with the MEC of Safety and Security Dan Plato on the issues of crime and drugs on our markets,” she said.

Another informal trader, who was also at the march last week, said she would relish a return to the Green Point market site. Shamielah Edwards worked at the Green Point market for six years before they were evicted. She now works in the City Bowl, near the Cape Town Central Station.

Ms Edwards lives in Manenberg and travels to town every day to open her market, where she sells homemade socks and underwear. She leaves Manenberg at 6.30 am and closes her stall at 6pm in the evening. Ms Edwards says everyone she knows would like to return to the old market because there were safety issues with trading in the city centre.

“All the people I know are wishing we could return to Green Point. It is the safest place and is free of drugs and crime. It is also a lucrative market because of all the tourists that come to the area.”

People Against Gangsterism and Drugs (PAGAD) coordinator Haroon Orrie, was there to support the informal traders.

He said the informal traders formed an important part of the local economy.

“Those in authority need to look at a plan of action to give them fair trade and equality,” said Mr Orrie. “There is not enough support from political parties. I think because people don’t understand the contribution they are making in this country, they are not recognised as they should be.

“The other issue is the crime and you’ll find that it has escalated and it gets to the point sometimes where traders can’t trade.”

When asked about a possible return of the Green Point market, Garreth Bloor, mayoral committee member for tourism, events and economic development, said: “Since the construction phase, the market was accommodated on the Green Point bowling site. With the departure of the previous stadium operating company and the process of applying for amendments to the zoning and environmental conditions of the stadium site, the management of the entire precinct and activities thereon requires the development of practical solutions that will work for all stakeholders. This process is currently under way.”

Luke Stevens, vice-chairman of the Green Point Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association, said the market was a great tourist attraction in the area when it was running. “It clearly offered many job opportunities to a lot of people who might otherwise be excluded from the economy. It was discontinued during the construction phase of Cape Town Stadium – an inconvenience that was never imposed on the adjoining McDonalds.”

However, he added that the market had not been without problems. “In particular it generated a lot of mess and litter. Now that the City is focusing on use of the Green Point precinct as an events venue there are likely to be obstacles around co-ordination of sporadic large events with regular market activities. Nevertheless. the GPRRA negotiations around the stadium have always included support for trading space for this market.”