THE half of Lusaka's City Market, silenced by a fired that swept through it seven months ago, was buzzing with activity yesterday as thousands of traders swept off the streets and corridors in the wake of the cholera outbreak took up slots.
Authorities trying to deal with the overwhelming demand for stands in the market were forced to accommodate two traders to each of the concrete tables originally designed for just one person.
That decision created 8,000 spaces, not nearly enough to take in the thousands of traders desperate to get back to business after being forced to stay home for more than two weeks as the city grappled with the cholera menace, but some 5,500 were happy to be back in business.
The process of allocating stands started around 06:30 hours and the traders made two long queues as authorities verified identities.
By lunch time, some traders had started operating while others were still lined up waiting to be shown their new stalls.
Lusaka Deputy Mayor Chilando Chitangala said in an interview yesterday that the market had 4,000; three-metre long stands, which had been separated into two to accommodate the traders.
Ms Chitangala said 5,500 slots had been allocated to the marketeers, while 2,500 had been given to the vendors that were trading along Lumumba Road.
"Each trader has a space of 1.5 metres and the process has been smooth. The Ministry of Home Affairs this morning (yesterday) at around 04:00 hours deployed 60 police officers to keep vigil and I can confirm that the situation has remained calm," Ms Chitangala said.
A midday check by the Times also found another queue of seemingly stranded vendors hoping to be allocated trading space.
But Ms Chitangala said the people in question were the remnant traders that were earmarked for allocation of trading space at BH Market, at Soweto Market which would be ready next week.
Ms Chitangala said another 2,000 vendors that were envisaged to be shifted to other markets around the city such as Kabwata, Chilenje or Northmead with room to accommodate them.
She said the traders who were along Cairo and Chachacha Roads had been relocated to Chachacha Market.
Local Government Vincent Mwale said he expected the process of trader relocation to be smooth.
And Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo warned people, among them foreigners fomenting public disorder by pretending to speak for street vendors that the law would deal with them.
Mr Kampyongo said there were individuals masquerading as vendors or marketeers trying to disrupt the smooth running of allocations so that they could end up getting slots.
He said at a Press briefing on Tuesday that a number of foreigners operated as street vendors without proper documentation and wanted to cause confusion in the process in order to elude the identification process.
Mr Kampyongo said this could be seen by the number of foreigners that were arrested recently after a riot in Kanyama township.
He said the Immigration Department would therefore be part of the slot allocation process to ensure that only Zambians were given trading places.
The minister also warned Zambians against getting trading places just so as to give them away to foreigners.