Arusha — ARUSHA Regional Commissioner, Mr Magessa Mulongo, has refuted reports that he allowed petty traders to turn city roads into shopping centres during Christmas and New Year holidays.
"To the contrary, I have received letters from shop and store owners in town who complain that petty traders, who hardly ever pay taxes, are now blocking their shop entrances displaying goods in heaps," said Mr Mulongo. He said he was already working on the problem.
Back in the streets traders here have been having a field day, taking over passageways, corridors and roads, claiming that the RC had allowed them to use the roads and streets as open-air shopping arenas.
Mr Mulongo admitted that even the business community in the city in their official letter to him complained that all city-centre roads appeared to be dominated by petty traders, much to the dismay of taxpaying businesspeople, motorists and pedestrians.
"Revenue that is normally earned from trading activities in the city has dropped by 50 per cent because many traders shun using official market stalls, choosing instead to spread merchandise on road edges where they do not pay taxes," he said.
A trader at the Central market, Ms Theresia Mitagwa, said she was surprised by claims that some traders were allowed to sell goods outside the market without paying taxes, to the disadvantage of traders with stalls in the market.
"We pay up to 1,000/- market cess everyday operating from tiny stalls inside the market where buyers cannot enter because already all entrances have been blocked by petty traders," she said, urging the authorities to clear the hawkers from the marketplace. Outside the central market, Mr Bosco Clement runs a clothes store.
He said petty traders have been blocking their shops on the pretext that the Regional Commissioner had allowed them to operate on the pavements and adjacent roads. Recently the regional authorities established outlets in city suburbs to accommodate hawkers.