[DEBATE] : (Fwd) Warwick Junction struggle, central Durban
pbond at mail.ngo.za
Wed May 20 14:40:21 BST 2009
Traders feel threatened by development
May 20, 2009 Edition 1
Inanda woman Ntombikayise Gagayi, 44, works diligently in her makeshift
kitchen in Durban's bustling Warwick Junction, where she cooks bovine
heads for a living.
These she sells to her customers - a fraction of the estimated 460 000
commuters that travel daily through this busy intersection of traffic,
train station, taxi ranks and bus terminals.
Gagayi, whose husband was killed in political violence in the early
1990s, depends on this passing trade to support her 10 children. She is
one of 30 widows who sell bovine heads and other plated food at the
junction's open-air food stalls.
The women traders are among an estimated 6 000 people who depend on
Warwick Junction's brisk informal trade, which filters desperately
needed income to townships and far-flung, poverty-stricken rural areas
such as Umkomaas, Ndwedwe and Inanda.
In communities hard-hit by HIV/Aids, traders' daily takings support up
to 25 people. About 460 000 commuters travel daily through the area
generating R1 billion in turnover for the existing mix of formal and
But now traders fear that the eThekwini Municipality and Umhlanga-based
developer, Isolenu, which forms part of the Warwick Mall consortium that
is behind the proposed new R400 million shopping mall, will devastate
their businesses by redirecting commuters to the mall, away from their
street stalls, which will be moved to designated areas.
Bovine-head cookers like Gagayi will be moved to the nearby English
Market to make way for the mall's franchised fast-food court. And 673
traders in the early morning market building, the proposed site of the
mall, have been notified to vacate by May 31.
The development includes a 30 000 square metre mall and taxi rank on the
building's top level to cater for south-bound taxis. The mall will be
linked by walkways and bridges to the train station and bus rank and to
redeveloped ranks for west-and north-bound taxis. The new freeway
flyovers are already under construction and the new taxi rank are
planned for completion in 2010.
Isolenu Group Holdings CEO Carlos Correia said he was surprised by
traders' fears and defended the development, saying it would incorporate
informal traders and create 680 permanent jobs and a number of part-time
He said Spar would be the anchor tenant with a 70% national profile of
tenants including FNB, Nedbank, Standard Bank, Jet, Foschini, Truworths,
African Bank, the Post Office, Eskom Financial Services and several
However, the development in its present form has been widely opposed by
informal traders' associations who claim the city has sidelined them,
while NGOs and the KwaZulu-Natal Institute of Architects have also
In formal comments, the development proposal process has been labelled
"flawed" and lacking due process regarding tendering and public
consultation with traders and ratepayers. Richard Dobson of NGO Asiye
Tafuleni said the development had been presented to traders as a fait
accompli on February 18 without any real interaction.
KZN Institute of Architects' president Miles Pennington said: "We
consider the process flawed owing to the lack of any recognition of the
strategic plan for the area, adherence to this plan, public consultation
with current users of the site, local developers and ratepayers, due
process in respect of procuring tenders for projects such as these, poor
conceptualisation of the project… We believe this has been exacerbated
by the need to complete the project in a timeframe that cannot be
"We consider the 'deal' to be financially prejudicial to ratepayers, who
are funding a significant proportion. This comment is made given the
lack of sufficient evidence to the contrary. We would like to see a
detailed viability study," Pennington said.
The eThekweni Municipality Strategic Projects Unit and 2010 Programme
head, Julie-May Ellingson, and city manager Michael Sutcliffe declined
"We remain involved in discussions on this matter as per council's
resolutions with directly concerned parties and I do not think it
appropriate to comment on hearsay and opinions through the media,"
However, Correira said the consortium had air rights for the space
connecting the market with the train station, which was why the city had
started talking to his company about developing the mall.
"We have all our EIA approvals which date back to 2007. We were going to
develop the station first with retail outlets. I can only assume the
city followed all its council processes. It went to the city in
September last year where there was a council resolution taken and in
February the process of the Municipal Financial Act was met.
"There were various objections and at the end of April we were informed
that we can carry on with our development," Correia said.
Warwick Market Traders' Association chairman Harry Ramlall, a
third-generation trader in the listed 99-year-old Early Morning Market
building, said traders had reported the matter to Amafa and were seeking
legal advice regarding their proposed move to a building in nearby Alice
"We have been here for 99 years. Some of us are fourth-generation
traders. They want to relocate us to the materials management building
but my concern is we don't even know if it is a viable proposition.
"We need to go to a place where we can do business. The building has
been lying vacant for a number of years and there are no people moving
through there. If something goes wrong someone has to be held
accountable," Ramlall said.
Apart from loss of trade, Ramlall said he feared not all traders, who
directly and indirectly employed about 3 000 people and 500 barrow
pushers who take produce to street traders, would be accommodated at the
However, Correia said he believed the traders had been consulted. "We
are surprised to hear these kinds of comments. They (traders) seemed to
take a strong view to keep the market, but the city had strong views
that the market has been problematic for many years with rental issues
and with conditions people are trading in," Correira said.
Jabulani Ntsele chairman of the Eye Traders' Association, Sisonke
Alliance, said traders were concerned that traders consulting with the
city had been coerced by promises of small tenders to accept the
development and were not representing the community's interests. He said
traders had asked Cosatu and the South African Communist Party to assist
and were planning a protest march.
"There is a big clash and the traders are going to start rising up
because they are scared they are going to lose their jobs. They are
destroying the livelihood of the people.
"Even to say people will get places to trade inside… we have never seen
any mall where street traders are allowed to trade inside or outside,
and we don't have any agreement on paper to say that we can trade in the
mall," Ntsele said.
Correia said in terms of the council's decision the developer had to
accommodate 150 street traders in a new public square at its own cost
and another 130 traders with permits would be moved at the city's
expense. He said various consultations had taken place. "We met every
condition of the city. We have to provide lock-up areas and lighting for
them. Regarding the bovine cookers my understanding is there is a big
health issue with where they are now," Correia said.
Ngoneni Khawula, 62, who represents vegetable sellers and food cookers
like Gagayi, said the wrangle was heartbreaking.
"It's our only source of income and the majority of traders are elderly
women and widows. It's like we are being thrown into the middle of a
thick bush where there is no passing trade," Khawula said.
UKZN School of Development Studies researcher Caroline Skinner called
the wrangle between informal traders, the city and its developers as a
battle for business between the formal economy, which would take profits
out of the local economy, and the informal economy, which provides an
income for KwaZulu-Natal's poorest people.
Meanwhile, the Democracy Development Programme will be hosting a public
discussion to debate the development and provide a platform for traders
and the public to air their views. The meeting is taking place at the
Durban University of Technology's city campus at noon today.
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