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Zambia: Chisokone Green Market Upgrading Good for Traders


THREE weeks ago, this platform looked at the impasse between traders at Kitwe’s Chisokone Market and the local authority.

It observed the need to engage in dialogue for a win-win situation.

Traders at one of the biggest markets in the country have been at loggerheads with the Kitwe City Council (KCC), since last year, over the demolition of makeshift containers at Chisokone Green Market.

The traders accused the KCC of planning to grab some shops from them and in turn to offer to their alleged preferred individuals.

But the council dismissed the allegation and maintained that traders should move to pave way for the construction of a modern facility and restore sanity in the market.

On Wednesday last week, the local authority swung into action demolishing about 89 makeshift containers to pave way for an additional trading shelter at the market.

The demolition followed the lapse of a one-week ultimatum for the affected traders to relocate.

However, the traders feel the action by the council to demolish the stands is unfair.

According to them, a consensus was not reached.

One of the affected traders, Emelda Bwembya says a win-win situation should have been promoted as opposed to a one-sided decision.

“It is imperative that a win-win situation should have been arrived at between the two parties before going ahead with the demolition exercise. This is very unfair,” says Ms Bwembya.

She said the action was a blow to the traders because that was where they earned their income.

But Christopher Kunda, a resident of Kitwe is of the view that the council’s action to demolish the makeshift stands is a necessary measure as it will promote hygiene.

Mr Kunda says traders should give the KCC an opportunity to construct modern structures.

“It is unfortunate that sometimes we take wrong things to be normal, and as a result deny ourselves development. The demolition is a necessary measure as it will allow the council to put up a modern structure and hopefully something of good standard,” he says.

Prior to the latest ultimatum of February 8, 2024, given to traders to relocate, and subsequent demolition on February 14, reports indicate that the local authority had been engaging the marketeers from July, last year.

The local authority indicated that failure to move by the traders contributed to delayed construction of a modern structure which had been earmarked to commence last year in October.

The resistance further inconvenienced over 500 traders who were forced to continue trading on the Chisokone one-way road pending their relocation back into the shelter once completed.

In a notice dated January 18, 2024, to traders at the frontage of Chisokone market, Kitwe Town Clerk Patrick Kambita advised the marketeers to relocate to the identified trading spaces within the vicinity.

Mr Kambita indicated that the guidance was also given at a meeting held in the Council Chamber on November 21, last year, attended by the affected traders.

“This has now become urgent as we need to complete the construction of the green market shelter in a bid to provide a hygienic trading space.

“Further, the current trading space at the frontage of the green market shelter is far from sanitary facilities and not aligned to promote hygiene,” reads the notice in part.

It further indicates that failure to adhere to the guidance will lead to legal action, and the makeshift shelters which will not be removed, demolished.

“We call for cooperation as we work together to promote health and economic development of our city,” says Mr Kambita.

From the town clerk’s notice, the parties have been engaging in numerous meetings.

However, it is clear there are issues of mistrust surrounding the relocation of the Chisokone Green Market traders.

The local authority has assured the public that every effort is being made to reduce disruption of business while prioritising the timely completion of the market shelter.

And in a statement after the demolition, KCC Public Relations Officer Emmanuel Lupikisha explains the importance of a market shelter.

He says the council is committed to providing a conducive and safe trading environment for marketeers and the public during and after the completion of the market shelter.