the challenge and opportunity of Street vendors
UNWTO preparations continue in Zambia
ZAMBIA (eTN) - According to Kingsley Lilamono, Chairman of the Livingstone Tourism Association, the private sector in Livingstone is fully prepared for the UNWTO. They are, however, waiting on government.
On Monday, Edwin Zumbunu, Southern Province Permanent Secretary, addressed government departments and the private sector. Edwin Zumbunu said that the committees at the national level include the ministerial committee, national steering committee, a secretariat, and a national technical committee. At the local level in Livingstone, there will be a local organizing committee, which will be chaired by the provincial permanent secretary.
According to Mr. Zumbunu, there will also be various sub-committees to deal with other aspects such as accommodation, security, immigration, protocol, health, etc.
During the week, the Minister of Tourism, Sylvia Masebo, also visited. She is traveling quite a bit back and form between Lusaka and Livingstone these days. Ms. Masebo seems to be concentrating her efforts into the cleanliness of Livingstone. With street vendors now legal, it is quite a task to see change the face of Livingstone, which has become a market all along its corridors.
Interestingly, there is an association of street vendors. It is called the United Street Vendors Foundation. The Chairman, Patrick Mubanga, said that the foundation has set up several groups to clean the streets and that some of them are willing to move to designated sites. He also said he hoped that they could have a Saturday market near the museum so that they could showcase their products. However, the vendors who deal in cellphones and other electronics want their own street from which they can trade.
There is, of course, a huge dilemma in allowing street vendors their own patch along the pavement. Firstly, of course, the shop owners pay for the privilege of occupying their premises and trading from there. Street vendors pay nothing and intimidate would-be customers in the shops. I use the word ‘intimidate’ to show that many people now do not go to the town centre because they cannot stand the irritation of weaving their way through cellphones, underpants and bananas spread along the pavement.
Most of the traders are merely trying to make a living to feed themselves and their families. They also tend to be the younger generation who cannot find jobs, because jobs to be had are few, and they are lacking the appropriate skills. The dilemma is the traders set up their wares in front of shops that are paying rent for their shop premises. Often, customers opt not to go into the shops as the sidewalks are full of traders.
In order to clear the sidewalks for the upcoming UNWTO event, perhaps government can provide shady premises where traders can operate by paying a minimal rent. United in this manner, such an area could become a dedicated market the traders will keep clean, so that it could actually become an enjoyable tourist stop.