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Not long after the management of informal trading moved to the Economic Growth Directorate some weeks ago, I began going out to communities such as Athlone, Epping, Wallacedene, Eikendal, Kuils River, Dunoon, Mitchells Plain, Philippi and Masiphumelele to engage traders and gain a better understanding of their challenges. Ultimately, their needs come down to trading spaces that are dignified, accessible, and well-located.

I emphasised to every person I spoke to that as a caring, opportunity City, we recognise traders’ vital contribution to economic growth, providing goods and services to communities across Cape Town, and most importantly, in sustaining livelihoods for people and their families.

We also understand that to create a sustainable working environment for traders, certain rules are needed to reduce tensions and create a sense of equity in what is often a contested space.

It is for this reason that the City, through the Informal Trading By-law, develops trading plans for different areas in consultation with traders, formal businesses and other interested stakeholders.

What to know about informal trading

Firstly, all traders working in areas with an approved trading plan need to have trading permits that specifically designates where and when they can trade.

While some of these permits may have expired, in line with the President’s proclamation, we recognise that they are valid until December 2022. The conditions of those permits are equally valid and must be respected by traders.

Our Directorate’s Area Economic Development team and their compliance officers work with traders to ensure that they understand and comply with the trading plan. In some instances, unfortunately, traders might disobey these rules and their permit conditions and that is when enforcement is required.

In these instances when all other options have been exhausted, the Law Enforcement department within the Safety and Security Directorate steps in to enforce the City’s by-laws.

While various concerns relating to informal traders fall within the oversight of different City Directorates, I will continue to ensure that we are all aligned towards the greater purpose of ensuring dignified and accessible trading spaces that make life easier for traders and consumers.

Going forward

The Economic Growth Directorate team will prioritise in the upcoming budget cycles a pipeline of capital projects that will deliver on our plans to provide dignified and accessible trading spaces that make life easier for traders and consumers.

I will continue to engage traders and communities to understand their perspectives and find solutions.

The City encourages traders to reach out to our Business Helpdesk with any queries they may have around regulations and sign up for training and capacity-building programme. Entrepreneurs and small businesses can contact them at business.support@capetown.gov.za and traders can also email us at informal.trading@capetown.gov.za.

I believe we can all succeed if we work together to ensure that the trading conditions are fair, understood and adhered to by all. My recent area visits have inspired me to do and understand more, to make it easier to trade, so that we can grow this sector and its contribution in providing much-needed economic opportunities and income for the people of Cape Town.

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