Traders angry at Fifa lockdown

2010-05-22 00:00

FIFA’S lockdown of the Moses Mabhida stadium precinct has left traders furious as they stand to lose millions in revenue.

On Monday, the eThekwini Muncipality will officially hand over the stadium to Fifa who will start preparations for the World Cup. Traders have been given two days to clear their stores and shutdown. No one will be able to trade during the duration of the World Cup.

Even street hawkers will not be able to trade in the Exclusion Zone, a one kilometre radius around the Moses Mabhida stadium, which Fifa operates. Only companies contrac­ted to Fifa can conduct business in the Exclusion Zone.

All restaurants, sports stores and stadium activities like the sky car, bungee swing and the adventure will shut down and re-open on July 15. The trading area will be cordoned off and only those with accreditation discs will be allowed to enter.

While some stores were able to transfer staff to other branches, others had to retrench staff.

Angry traders told the Weekend Witness that they were aware of the Fifa’s trading rules, however, they believe alternative arrangements could have been made for them to conduct business on non-match days.

Firdaus Razak, owner of Nino’s coffee shop, said she was “gutted” when she heard that Fifa would not allow trading on non-match days.

She said the lockdown would impact on her business as she has only opened a month ago and was still establishing relationships with customers.

“I also had to find jobs for staff at other Nino branches. It’s frustrating for me because my business suffers and my staff has to relocate,” she said.

Razak said she hopes to use all the stock in the fridges before Monday when the shop will be locked up.

“The lease stipulated the lockdown, but we thought that we would be able to trade a little during the event. I expected to do great business,” she said.

Manager of Sneakers, Lenny Pillay, said his store would lose about R8 million in revenue during the lockdown and was angry that Fifa had only given them two days to clear their stock from the store.

“Surely they could have allowed us to trade on non-match days? This was a great chance to attract international tourists; we lose out big time,” he said.

Pillay said that staff would start packing tomorrow night; he hoped to be done by Tuesday.

He and other staff members will work at other Sneakers branches around Durban.

Mark Lee, from STS Sports, said he was disappointed that traders were asked to close their stores three weeks before the first game kicked off.

His stores will lose almost R500 000 during the lockdown.

Iain McIntosh, owner of the Big Rush Company that operates the Adventure Walk and Bungee Swing activities, said traders should accept that the lockdown is due to safety and security issues, and that Fifa has this ruling to guarantee the integrity of the venue.

Sifiso Dlamini, a street trader who sells cheap sunglasses and belts in the stadium car park, said that while many were excited about the World Cup, he was angry as he would not be able to do business.

He has been selling his glasses and belts around the stadium for the past year and says that he is not sure how he will survive during the event.

“I’m very angry that I will not be able to sell my things here. Now I have to look for a new place. I know that the tourists would have loved my sunglasses,” he said.

Dlamini plans to set up a stall on the beachfront. “I’m hoping to sell my glasses at the fan parks but I’m not sure whether I will be allowed. The last thing I need is for Metro police to confiscate my goods,” he said.

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