Traders are ‘heroes’

2016-02-09 06:00

Traders in the greater Athlone area gathered at the Athlone Stadium last week for a roundtable discussion with various roleplayers, including the City of Cape Town and the Cape Chamber of Commerce.

The discussion was part of an ongoing dialogue between the City and the traders, who had the opportunity to raise issues.

Garreth Bloor, mayoral committee member for tourism, events and economic development, attended the meeting and once again pledged his commitment to see the informal trade sector thrive further.

“These entrepreneurs and these informal traders out here are the heroes. They take risks so few people are willing to take; they brave any weather condition. They save up and put their capital and their hard-earned savings to work and deliver products and services that all of us benefit from every day. I really mean it, they are our heroes in our communities,” said Bloor.

“The contribution that each of you make to the economy goes into billions and it is now finally recorded and made official that you make up a growth sector that keeps poverty 20% lower than what it would have been.”

Traders were also given tips to help them increase their profit margins and were encouraged to continue to think of innovative ways to bring in new business.

One of the traders who was encouraged by the day’s proceedings was Sahliegah Pandey, who has been trading in clothing and textiles, specialising in knitwear, for 33 years.

“I love everything about trading; my beginnings were there. I have definitely grown and have seen improvement in the district. I wish I had a bigger place, but because of equality, I am glad that everyone has the same size place,” she said.

Pandey said that overtrading was an issue, but she was not fazed by it much. Her only hope was to maintain her place, mentioning that they had been moved on too many occasions. She felt this was very unfair because it had happened without consultation.

“I just hope that we can work and interact harmoniously with the formal business sector and that they can work with us as the informal sector.”

Meanwhile, Roger Jones, who has worn many hats during his 18 years of trading in Athlone, said that although the future of trading looked bright, he would like to see even more engagement with the City.

“I hope there will be an opportunity for a one-on-one where we can at least say that these are our issues. They (the City) say that we contribute to the economy, but we get so little out of it, because we do not even have cover for our stands really; the lack of facilities and the drug trafficking that is going on in the area.

“They should have more visible policing, have patrols like they have in Cape Town with the horses and all that, because we are contributing so much. They are always telling us that we are contributing,” Jones said.

Bloor reiterated that despite having an ongoing dialogue, traders had to use the structures made available to them by the City.
“We have a one-stop shop in which we have partnered with over 90 business development organisations. In that partnership we want to ensure that any trader who comes to the City with an idea or a plan, doesn’t just get the advice of City officials, but gets referred to the best experts that are out there who have made that commitment to develop with us in partnership.”
He went on to say that red tape was becoming less of a hindrance and that the City had removed over 300 old structure plans and impediments to ease growth and the processing of applications.
Bloor also welcomed an open-door policy when dealing with a trader who may have issues. He said interactions between the government and the people it served needed to remain simple.

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