Hawkers chased from Zambia capital

Sunday September 13 2009

A Lusaka vendor burns his makeshift ‘shop’ following the ban by the government for hawkers to stop selling from streets in Lusaka.

A Lusaka vendor burns his makeshift ‘shop’ following the ban by the government for hawkers to stop selling from streets in Lusaka on Sunday. 

LUSAKA, Zambia, Sunday

Police officers in riot gear have sealed off streets in Lusaka’s main business area to stop hawkers from selling their merchandise.

The Ministry of Local Government and Housing, which is in charge of councils and sanitation welfare, recently released K2.1 billion (about Sh34.4 million) to the Zambia police to help remove the vendors from the streets of Lusaka.

Almost all streets of the Zambian capital, Lusaka, have a multitude of vendors selling all sorts of goods making it difficult for people to move on the streets or enter shops.

The vendors have even covered some lanes on main streets with their commodities. The vendors also sell their goods on the pathways, corridors of shops even entrances to shops.

Some shop owners are believed to be giving some of their goods to street vendors to be selling for them outside their shops because buyers opt to purchase goods from the streets instead of shops because the entrances are blocked by vendors.

The Ministry of Home Affairs - which is the parent ministry for the Zambia Police - and the Lusaka City Council gave the vendors an ultimatum of up to Saturday midnight to stop selling from the streets.

The police officers sealed off the streets early Sunday morning to prevent the vendors from continuing with their businesses.

But this is not the first time that the Zambia police and Lusaka City Council police have swung into action chasing vendors from the streets. Whenever they are barred, the vendors still come back on the streets after a period.

The government struggles to permanently remove street vendors because of their political influence as voters.