19 November 2012

Zambia: Don't Upset UNWTO Preps - Masebo

GOVERNMENT has warned opposition political parties in Livingstone to desist from frustrating its efforts of removing street vendors to maintain sanity in the city ahead of next year's United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) general assembly.

Tourism and Arts Minister Sylvia Masebo urged the opposition not to use street vendors for their selfish gains as the Government was determined to maintain cleanliness in the city ahead of the global tourism summit.

Ms Masebo said some opposition leaders were telling vendors to remain on the streets to insinuate that the Government had failed to control the situation.

She said the Livingstone City Council had provided an alternative piece of land outside the town centre where vendors could be trading from.

She was speaking in Livingstone at the weekend after she toured the town centre component of Mosi-oa-tunya Road which was overcrowded by more than 200 vendors.

Ms Masebo said it was important that Livingstone was kept clean and the corridors were cleared for tourists and other visitors to freely move around.

"Clearly, there is a problem here in Livingstone because the number of street vendors in the town centre is increasing every day. The environment is not conducive and we need to do something urgently to control the situation.

"We know that opposition leaders are telling vendors that they should not move out of the streets so that Government should be seen to be failing to control the situation. Don't use vendors for your selfish gains," Ms Masebo said.

She said if the vendors did not move out of the streets to the land the council had provided for them, the situation could get out of hand especially as the rainy season had started.

She urged the vendors to listen to the Government which played the role of ensuring that there was order and the environment was conducive for tourists, residents and other stakeholders.

Ms Masebo said even some foreigners from Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Tanzania and other countries were also selling various merchandise in Livingstone, which she described as unfortunate.

And United Street Vendors Foundation Southern region secretary Patrick Mubanga said the vendors would work with the Government to bring sanity in Livingstone.

Mr Mubanga said it was unfortunate that some opposition leaders were trying to politicise street vending even when the vendors were ready to move out of the town centre and start trading at the new site.

"We will develop the new trading area and invite the council to help us allocate stands to vendors so that the process is transparent. We want to graduate from street vendors to small and medium scale enterprises," he said.

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