In Kabwe, street vending has long been a problem. Every once in a while the counsel used to make a lame effort in chasing the women off the streets. But as a long lasting solution never got put in place, the vending has now been left to completely take over town center. You can now hardly get anywhere without hopping over peoples goods. Vendors are now putting up tables; even makeshift kitchens on the street, a sign that they are there to stay. As a result the streets are littered and the market is deserted as there is no business there. This, in combination with delayed road works and heavy rains, has turned Kabwe into a mess.
It is not only the business in the market that is affected by vending, all businesses are affected. Shops where companies pay tax, follow guidelines on health standards and are subjected to counsel inspections have to compete with vendors cooking and selling food right on their doorstep! This in a toxic town where dust contains lead never mind! And I’m starting to wonder if people simply have begun to accept this as norm, a town of substandard. What will it take for Kabwe residents to say -Enough! How much more deploring must the situation get? We, as residents, must realize that change is in our hands. We can change the situation by putting pressure on our counsel. By letting our leaders know what we think. And by NOT supporting the street vending! Many use the argument that the vendors are merely trying to get by. As much as it may be true, there has to be another solution. If we stop buying on the street (you only do that out of laziness anyway!) and instead support the people in the markets, even the vendors will move to where the business is.
Kabwe is a sad sight at the moment and if we don’t make our voices heard, I’m afraid it’ll not improve anytime soon.