The Gaborone City Council has embarked on a ‘clean-up’ campaign to remove street vendors who violate safety and public health regulations.
This could not have come at a better time. Pedestrian walkways in many areas in the city have been turned into kitchens and vending shades. Whilst we appreciate that unemployment figures have gone up in recent years, with graduates roaming the streets, we do not believe that safety regulations should be ignored to the extent of posing a risk to people’s lives.
It is disturbing to watch people bringing gas cylinders into the streets, the bus rank, or the city centre where they cook meals to sell to their clients. This happens even at the doorstep of city council offices.
The mushrooming of vendors in every corner of the city could have been nipped in the bud way back, but we are always slow to respond to a problem until it gets out of control. Gas cylinders are seen everywhere even adjacent to highrise buildings, which should meet a lot of safety standards before they can be occupied. Gas cylinders in their nature are explosive devices that can cause serious damages and even death if not properly regulated.
Another emerging problem is uncontrolled loud music by Compact Disc vendors who often ignore their surroundings before setting up or switching on their radio sets ‘waking up neighbours’.
Previously the city council ignored calls for the construction of stalls at certain areas around the city, but ultimately did so at the bus rank, and BBS Mall almost a decade ago.
Perhaps time has come for the city council to build more of these facilities including those that can accommodate clothing retailers who account for majority of street hawkers across the city. It is also time to review the occupation policy to prevent cartels or individuals from monopolising the facilities at the expense of those in need of them to utilise for a living.
The mushrooming of Day Care centres should also trigger the curiosity of the authorities because these are places where young and vulnerable minds are left in the care of strangers for a significant portion of the day.
It is during this time that infants are exposed to a lot of things, some with everlasting implications such as Satanism, drug abuse, vulgar words, or even prostitution. We need strict monitoring mechanisms if we are to build a safe and secure nation.
Lastly, the council should reserve these facilities for Batswana who do not have a formal employment or any other formal source of income.
‘‘Law enforcement officers are never ‘off duty’. They are dedicated public servants who are sworn to protect public safety at any time and place that the peace is threatened. They need all the help that they can get.’’
- Barbara Boxer