The North West District Council has lifted a ban on the use of open fire by food vendors on the road-sides while those in congested areas and using gas remain prohibited. Those prohibited include vendors selling in malls, bus rank and night clubs among other congested areas and the ban remains until further notice.
The council’s by-law officers alongside the police recently launched raids on food vendors in Maun to enforce the hawking and street by law and public health act which prohibits the use of open fire to cook in public places. The vendors are also required to have catering licences to be able to sell food in public areas.
The decision then sparked an uproar among the informal traders as beside having suffered losses, some were slapped with heavy fines, as the majority were used to cooking on site using gas and firewood. The disgruntled vendors decried that the decision had abruptly affected their source of income.
Council has since made amendments to the ban with NWDC Chairperson, Itumeleng Kelebetseng assuring that they did not mean to destroy people’s businesses but to ensure that it is done safely. Addressing a press conference in Maun recently, Kelebetseng stated that the informal sector plays a big role in the community as it reduces unemployment rates.
Kelebetseng advised vendors who do their businesses far from congested areas to ensure safety where their food is cooked, and that it is also clean and attractive to the buyer.
The council chairman has also advised vendors to register their businesses and get the required catering licenses in order for the council to have a record and differentiate between a registered vendor and an unregistered one.
He noted that there are some non-citizens in the informal sector who disadvantage Batswana by also venturing in the same business hence a catering license is important to be able to notice those who are doing it illegally. Kelebetseng added that there are also those who hide behind street vending to sell illicit drugs.
“The licenses required, help to put an end to this criminal activities,” said the Chairman who further stressed that a catering license helps vendors to be referred to companies like Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) for funds and for them to be assisted at the banks with accounts and other bank necessities.
Meanwhile, one of the vendors, Veronique Tlhako from ‘Emang Maun Association’ (Maun informal sector association) expressed delight about council’s decision to lift part of the ban. As one of those trading in uncongested areas, Tlhako said they were unhappy with the initial decision of being banned from doing their businesses as they earned a living out of them. Tlhako however gave an assurance that they will abide by the conditions given being to have the required catering license and ensuring safety where their businesses are placed. She further said that they will also ensure that their businesses are attractive to the buyer as well.