14 November 2017 Read: 76
The street hawker problem in Tzaneen will not be solved soon according to a reliable source who spoke to Bulletin this week. According to our informant this is due to the political connotations attached to many of the vendors who are protected by top ranking municipal officials in their family.
“There are a few councillors and municipal employees who benefit from these vendors. It is also the reason these traders are allowed to trade illegally without the required permits, and why local law enforcement are unwilling to assist in their removal.”
According to our source there was a tie when the Greater Tzaneen Municipality assisted in the removal of the stalls erected by the vendors next to the side of the road.
“Tzaneen’s traffic department in conjunction with the local SAPS used to accompany members of SANRAL in the evenings. They would load up all the pallets used by the illegal traders, remove it from the roadside and burn it on a huge pile. This solved the problem for at least two or three weeks until the traders managed to find new pallets and erect their stalls at the same spot again. The process would then be repeated.”
In an attempt by SANRAL to minimize the risk to their road users, a series of wooden poles were planted at busy intersections such as the crossing at Venbeck just outside of town. The SANRAL team used the poles to prevent the hawkers from setting up shop on the corners and make it impossible for motorists to stop and buy their produce. The plan proved very effective and SANRAL set out to implement it elsewhere along the R71 at known trader-hotspots.
“When SANRAL started work on the R71 through Tzaneen angry traders chased them off-site, warning them that should they continue planting the poles, they would burn all their vehicles and equipment. SANRAL retreated on concerns for the safety of their workers.”
Given that SANRAL does not have a law enforcement arm, the organization relies on the cooperation from local and provincial law enforcement agencies to enforce the rules of the road. The ‘no-stopping and ‘no-hawking’ signs planted all along the R71 past Lifestyle Centre, were placed there by SANRAL for the safety of the road users. The enforcement of these signs is left to the local and provincial authorities.
“An alternative solution was proposed recently to try and combat this problem from a different angle. It is suggested that instead of trying to remove the traders, motorists who stop at the trade posts should be fined hefty fines. If you deter the customers from supporting the traders, their business will dry up and they will remove themselves.”
The only problem with this proposal is that one would then have to find a way to ensure that law enforcers conduct regular patrols and look past the intimidation and bribes, when issuing fines.