Trading suspended

Traders demonstrated outside the Green Point Athletics Stadium on Sunday.

Traders at the newly-opened Green Point Market are angry with the City of Cape Town after they were not allowed to trade this past Sunday because their market space was used for parking during a soccer match being played at the stadium.

The market was officially opened at its new location on Sunday December 22 after it had been moved 10 years ago to make way for the construction of the Cape Town Stadium and the surrounding Green Point Urban Park before the 2010 Fifa Soccer World Cup.

The City said it had called back all 98 historical traders who were a part of the original market and many were overjoyed to return to the area.

The market trades from the P4 parking area just outside the Green Point Athletics Stadium on Sundays and public holidays from 8am until 5pm.

However, there was no market on Sunday January 5, when Cape Town City played a home ground match against Baroka FC at the stadium, as the trading space was used for parking.

Traders demonstrated during the match.

A meeting between Green Point Market leaders and City officials was due to take place on Monday, January 6, but was cancelled.

Market chairperson Rosheda Muller said they had been notified on December 31 about the soccer match.

She said traders viewed the cancellation of Sunday’s market as a betrayal of trust and a slap in the face of the informal economy.

“We were very saddened by this as it impacts on the livelihood of thousands of people. Traders have been stocking up with consumables, food and stock for the first Sunday of 2020, anticipating another great trading day. To deny them trading will result in financial loss, particularly for the food traders,” she said.

Ms Mullersaid emails to the City revealed the excess of “bureaucratic red tape that exists within the administration.”

She said in 2019, during negotiations about the new location, they were promised that should there be an event on market day, an alternative site would be provided.

“The City’s policies should be humane and cater to the needs of humanity and the vulnerable. Local government is meant to serve the communities and our community contributes to the economy and is one of the largest job creators in the country, she said.

Ms Muller said during their peaceful demonstration, they monitored the site and there was enough space for them to trade. “The City dictates to us and it’s not fair. We want to be acknowledged as one of the biggest economic contributors in the city and we want our needs and rights to be protected.”

She said they set up a meeting with City officials and it was cancelled at short notice.

In a letter addressed to the City’s Economic Development department, traders stated that they were aggrieved by the action. “You called our vice-chairperson per telephone at 08:30 am, three hours before we were to meet and verbally informed him of its cancellation. Are we now to assume that a phone call from the City is to be regarded as an official notification? Certainly it provides an exit for any scintilla of professionalism should that be the case,” they stated.

One trader, Caleb Ibrahim, said he was disappointed when he heard about the cancellation of the market due to the match on Sunday.

“We’ve been trading for only two weeks and I thought the business was starting to pick up and this happened. This showed that this site is not meant for trading. It’s still a parking site and we’ll always be shoved aside whenever there are events,” he said.

Weighing-in on the matter, the City’s Mayoral committee member for urban management, Grant Twigg said the traders were informed on December 30 about the cancellation of the market.

“This was reasonable notice as they were already aware that they would not be allowed to trade on events days as agreed to by all parties.The agreed to terms and conditions of the market was that trading will not take place on event days. The Cape Town Stadium hosted an event on Sunday, January 5, therefore the aforementioned terms and conditions were applicable on this day,” he said.

Mr Twigg said the meeting scheduled for Monday was not related to the events that took place over the weekend and the new date would be communicated in due course.

“While the City is not obliged to find alternative accommodation for traders on events days due to the agreement, we will nonetheless continue to engage with the relevant City departments and leadership of the Cape Town Stadium for alternatives,” he said.