October 22, 2009 Edition 1
KOWTHAR SOLOMONS – Cape Argus
CONFUSION marred yesterday’s visit by Mayor Dan Plato to Mitchells Plain, where he believed he was going to address the hawkers’ reluctance to move to new, demarcated bays at Town Centre.But when he arrived, Plato found they were more than willing to move.
What they were concerned about was their current representation in the negotiations.
The move to the allocated bays, designed to give structure to the current disorganised situation outside and around Town Centre, has been the subject of negotiations for more than a decade, after an agreement between the city and the hawkers’ representative of the time in 1996.
Yesterday, however, hawker Mieshka Cassiem used Plato’s visit to accuse representatives of the Mitchells Plain United Hawkers’ Forum of “abusing their powers”.
“They use their positions to award permits to those who they see fit. They are threatening our livelihoods for their own purposes. They fail to look after our interests, which they were elected to protect,” she said.
Hawkers also expressed concern that they would be moved to the outskirts of the new set-up, which they feared would negatively affect their income.
Another issue raised was the location of some bays over drains, which they warned would violate city bylaws.
They blamed the problems on misrepresentation in negotiations.
The mayor told the hawkers he would investigate all their claims, and would set up a workshop to allow everyone to air their grievances.
“Right now we have to look at what the restructuring of the stalls can do for the people. We want to beautify Town Centre and turn it into a tourist attraction. But to do that we must first clean it up. This is to allow business to do better,” Plato said.
Many of the hawkers said afterwards that they had heard promises from politicians before, but they were hoping things would be different now.