Informal traders are at odds with Prasa over their eviction from a Johannesburg station over the weekend, accusing the passenger rail agency of making unilateral decisions. According to Prasa spokesperson Andiswa Makanda the traders were evicted from Park Station following the arrest of a foreign national who was allegedly issuing fraudulent passports from a cloakroom that belonged to one of them.
Makanda said they were evicted because the “continued presence of informal traders under the current dangerous situation is negatively impacting on the normal operations of Park Station”. She also said that a notice was previously issued to other informal traders, requesting them to vacate the station so that the agency could properly regulate their presence under Prasa’s new Informal Trading Policy. Makanda told Vutivi News that there would be a re-application and re-allocation process of the stalls under the new policy.
“While the eviction of informal traders may come as an inconvenience, we plead with informal traders to understand and be patient as we proceed with the process to formalise and regularise the presence of informal traders at Park Station,” she said. However, SA Informal Traders Association (SAITA) national director Paul Bester slammed the agency for its “unilateral decision taken without due consultation”.
He told Vutivi News that SAITA was unhappy with how Prasa had handled the situation. “We have been made aware that the evicted informal traders were predominantly foreign nationals,” Bester said. “While we do not condone illegal foreign nationals trading without proper documentation, we believe that it is unfair to have those who have documents to trade removed. “This was a unilateral decision taken without consulting associations that represent the informal traders at Park Station.”
Commenting on the moratorium on the renewal of trading permits that was announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa to help businesses suffering under lockdown regulations, Bester accused Prasa of not adhering to this decision. “The area that the informal traders were evicted from was demarcated for informal trading, and we are aware that informal traders can operate without renewing their trading permits until the end of the year,” he said.
“Informal traders are not like established small businesses in that their businesses are mainly survivalist, as those that operate them do so to put food on their tables. “It is the government’s duty to look after its people and create opportunities for businesses to create jobs, and Park Station was fertile ground for this goal to be achieved,” he said. Bester said that SAITA would hold talks with Prasa on the matter.