Vendors face eviction to make way for road works


. . . no alternative space provided yet


MASERU – Street vendors along Moshoeshoe Road are facing eviction from their stalls as they prepare for a looming Maseru City Council (MCC)’s enforcement on April 5. The council has cited the need for road maintenance and widening as the reason for the eviction notice. Mpho Mpojane, the head of the street vendors committee in the Olympic Zone, yesterday expressed concerns over the lack of alternative vending spaces within the town.

Despite being informed by the MCC about their impending eviction, the vendors find themselves in a predicament as viable relocation options are currently unavailable. “We were initially instructed to relocate last week, but due to the short notice, we requested an extension from the municipality. However, with only a few weeks left before eviction, our primary worry remains the potential loss of business,” Mpojane said.

He expressed their fears about potentially relocating to a site that could adversely affect their businesses.“Opening businesses in an area devoid of potential customers would render our efforts futile, as there would be no customers to buy our goods. Therefore, we are hesitant to move to such a place,” he said. Regarding the sudden eviction, Mpojane said they had inquired about the rationale behind it, which is about the upcoming road extension and installation of sewage pipes. “We also sought clarification on the possibility of returning once the renovations are complete. However, regrettably, we were informed that we are no longer welcome in the area,” he said.

While the MCC claimed there were no available spaces to offer them, it assured this reporter of ongoing efforts to identify potential locations. The spokesperson of the MCC, Lintle Mosala said they lack authority over the road reserve, as it falls under the jurisdiction of the Roads Directorate.

She noted that both the MCC and the vendors’ representatives have been informed that they are occupying road reserves. She said as the MCC, it is their responsibility to secure suitable locations for vendors to conduct their businesses. Consequently, they are actively seeking alternative relocation options. “We are currently in discussions with vendor representatives and, as of now, no final decision has been made regarding their relocation,” she said.

She explained that the Roads Directorate is responsible for delineating the road reserves.

In a phone interview, Bataung Kharasi, the representative of the Roads Directorate, said it was confirmed that the construction of Moshoeshoe Road is ongoing. He said the vendors must vacate the area as it falls within the road reserves. According to a street vendor named, Kamo Thabane, they were informed earlier this month that they would need to vacate the area by next month.

However, she said not all vendors were directly informed since only the committee was contacted and tasked with relaying the message. “The reason provided was that the contractor wished to commence work after Easter. The vendors were not offered an alternative place to conduct their business and were given only two weeks to vacate,” she explained. Initially, there was a promise that the Municipal Corporation of Cape Town (MCCT), the Roads Directorate, and the contractor would address the vendors to clarify the situation and facilitate dialogue. However, no such communication has occurred since then.

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