It is great to note that government including previous governments have built designated areas or zones in Lusaka about “11039 trading places in 31 markets in Lusaka out of which 4415 are occupied and the difference remains empty” as reported by Mr. Phiri the Permanent Secretary local government. This allows vendors who are permitted to conduct their business without causing disruption to pedestrian traffic or impeding emergency services.
Although the above is one of the solutions, more can be done. Therefore, i suggest that the Zambian government should put up a licensing system that binds street vendors to register their businesses. This helps authorities keep track of vendors and ensures they comply with health and safety regulations.
Readers of this would agree with me that the central business districts in most parts of the country have no good health and safety standards. Therefore, I propose that government must establish clear health and safety guidelines that street vendors must adhere to, such as food handling practices, waste disposal, and maintaining clean working spaces within Lima tower and other trading places across the country.
In fact, since government should swiftly implement health standards and proper trading systems in small towns, before the population in such cities reaches levels of Lusaka. Furthermore, government through taxes they collect can offer training programs and workshops to street vendors on topics like hygiene practices, business management, and customer service to improve their skills and overall operations.
To solve partly the employment challenges among the young graduates, government can license young entrepreneurs to run parking places in the city. However, the young entrepreneurs must help in keeping city clean by ensuring no person throws waste anyhow. The Lusaka city council must not only look at spraying mosquitos as their primary responsibility, but they are also in those offices to provide better ideas on how the city can be clean and green. Therefore, the Lusaka city council and other councils must explore possible Mobile vending carts or stalls around markets. Additionally, this allows for flexibility while preventing the permanent occupation of public spaces.
Furthermore, the city councils must always collaborate with local vendors to ensure that collection of vendors feedback is done when designing regulations and policies to ensure they are feasible and fair.
Associations of vendors and create opportunities for street vendors to participate in local markets, festivals, or events, providing them with additional exposure to potential customers without obstructing regular pedestrian paths. This allows them to generate more revenue. For example, government can advertise and encourage the population to buy cheaper things from vendors in new trading places, this allows even the remaining empty unoccupied places by vendors to be occupied.
The Zambian government can consider the social and economic circumstances of street vendors, especially mothers trying to educate children through such businesses. Hence, government through a well-regulated system must continue more providing support systems to help vendors transition into more formalized businesses or access social services when needed. This allows more Zambians to build shops and shopping complexes in future, which in the end gives more options for Zambians to buy in shops where cheaper vegetables and products can be found.
By Misheck Kakonde
The author is a legal scholar, comparative politics specialist, History and Cultural Studies, expertise in international relations, negotiation, and protocol (ZIDIS). Author of the book “peering into Zambian Cultures, Ceremonies” and contributor in the book “Young Zambia between poverty and abundant resources”.