Hawkers in Bhisho received a welcome gift last week when finance MEC Lubabalo Mabuyane and Buffalo City mayor Xola Pakati visited the area to deliver 28 newly-constructed vender stands.
The stands have lockable doors, lockable saving counters, and provide a safe space to cook and store food.
Construction began after an inspection by Mabuyane last year where he found hawkers trading in dilapidated stands or out in the open.
Traders raised various concerns with the MEC, most notably having to endure inclement weather due to the lack of adequate facilities.
“It is very important for the government to focus on microeconomics to stimulate economic growth. It is through supporting these small businesses that our government will be able to change the lives of the ordinary South Africans.
“For us, growing our country starts with investing in providing such support to small businesses,” Mabuyane said.
Pakati said the construction of hawker stands is high on the municipal agenda and that BCM intended to roll out more in King William’s Town and Mdantsane.
“We took a collaborative initiative to rebuild these stalls to make sure that we treat our people with respect and also bring back their dignity. People are earning a living out of the work that they do here,” he said.
Nogcinile Simakade, one of the traders who received a new vending stall, said they were grateful for the new facilities.
“Many leaders have been here before and made promises to no benefit. It is the first time that someone comes once within no time and we see this remarkable change,” Simakade said.
Her sentiments were shared by fellow trader Celiwe Baleni.
“This is a huge delivery for us. We now feel safe and cared for. Our situation before was painful and undeserving of a human life,” Baleni said.
“The rain would come in and make us wet while we worked. It was even worse when there was wind, it would just be impossible to work as wind would just blow everything away. In winter we had to put on plastic bags and papers to cover ourselves from the cold.”