Uproar over market fees hike

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The Herald

Municipal Correspondent
Harare City Council’s decision to hike farmers market fees more than 11-fold has stirred an uproar among stakeholders, including vendors and the business community, who said the huge increase is unjustifiable.

Farmers who used to pay $45 a day from 6am to 11am now have to pay $500.

Delivery trucks in the range of one to five tonnes are paying $300, while for five tonnes and above it is at $400.

Council spokesperson Mr Michael Chideme yesterday said the increase was necessitated by inflation.

While farmers and vendors see some increases as inevitable, they cannot see how the council came up with an 11-fold increase.

Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation director Mr Samuel Wadzayi said there was need to take into account the operating environment.

Mr Wadzayi said generally, business was low and a lot of people were affected by the lockdown so they needed to be given breathing space and time to recuperate.

“These tariffs are not cost effective because in essence what it means is that these farmers are paying equivalent to US$5 per day and this will calculate to US$150 per month,” he said.

“I don’t think there is any farmer who can afford this. It is too much in our view and given the fact that people are coming out of the national lockdown and business is just low, this amount is exorbitant.”

Business Development Trust of Zimbabwe (BDTZ) secretary general Mr Robert Mutyasira said they had noted with concern the exorbitant hikes in tariffs imposed upon farmers who supply products and vendors who occupy council stalls.

“As BDTZ, we would want to express our utter dismay at this development and the insensitivity of council to the plight of these traders who are already struggling under adverse economic circumstances,” he said.

“Such figures are ridiculous and negatively imply that the cost will naturally be moved to the common person who is already under excessive pressure with disposable income.”

Mr Mutyasira urged council to go back to the drawing board and reconsider the decision, taking into account their clientèle’s current business status, and considering the slow traffic of customers and off takers consequent to the Covid-19 lockdown.

“In future, we urge council to engage all stakeholders in a participatory process before altering any of their charges to residents and traders,” he said.

Recently, the council had to backtrack on parking fees when it shoved up city centre parking from $20 an hour to US$1 an hour.

The backtracking saw the new charge fixed at $50 an hour.

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