ILLEGAL street vending is a serious problem affecting many cities around the world, Lusaka included.
It has proved to be a challenge for cities and towns alike, despite the enactment of legislation outlawing this practice.
Yet, despite the prohibition, illegal vending has become one of the top quality of life complaints of residents and businesses in Lusaka.
In addition to dishonoring the sanctity of our cities and towns throughout Zambia, illegal vending makes life very difficult for the other businesses and residents.
Illegal street vending has become a norm over the years with very little being done by the concerned authorities to curb this practice and as a result, the problem has grown to the point where the authorities are finding it extremely difficult to handle it.
Yet we all know that street vending is a menace in any given society, especially in busy municipalities and cities because streets are not meant for vending due to, among other factors, the absence of sanitation facilities.
No doubt the rise in the number of street vendors in Lusaka has continued to cause a lot of concern among residents who have called on the Lusaka City Council (LCC) to control the scourge which appears to have already gotten out of control.
However it is distressing to learn how the council has recently kept on fumbling on the matter with some officials appearing to be developing a soft spot for street vendors.
And this has prompted Simoson director Simon Mwewa to voice his worries over allowing the vendors to sell on the streets instead of consigning them to designated places – the markets.
We agree with Mr Mwewa that allowing vendors back on the streets is not the right way to enable people earn a living because it is endangering their lives from disease outbreaks, especially the notorious cholera.
Mr Mwewa has insisted that authorities must try and learn from the last cholera outbreak experienced in the capital city which had to take a deployment of military personnel to the central business district (CBD) to control the situation.
Regrettably, Lusaka City Council (LCC) has decided to allow the vendors back on the streets of Lusaka after demands from some quarters for the local authority to stop harassing them.
“Removing the vendors from the streets does not mean the authority is stopping them from earning a living but to avoid outbreaks of diseases. It is therefore also pointless to relocate them to specific city roads as a preventive measure,” Mr Mwewa says.
We totally agree with Mr Mwewa that that the elucidation to the street vending in Lusaka lies in the people trading in designated markets.
The council decision to also allow the vendors to trade along the Simon Mwewa Lane between 16 hours and 20 hours is certainly not a solution to the problem because the vendor would only stick to those trading hours for a while but later revert to their normal trading hours.
LCC also knows just too well that street vending is depriving it of its much needed revenue because the people selling on the streets did not pay any rates.
We are totally against this decision to allow the vendors back on the streets which retrogressive and should be rescinded in double quick time for the good of the city.
Restoration of law and order in Lusaka City should be priority of the authorities if they are truly committed to having our capital in a state that all residents can be proud of.
Shifting blame and finding all manner of excuses, is not the way to go. The way to go is getting the job done by finding appropriate solutions and implementing them in an efficient and effective manner.