Over 170 vendors evicted for P8million debt
The future of Gaborone Bus-rank food market vendors remains in limbo following the issuance of letters of eviction to over 170 tenants by Gaborone City Council recently.
The Voice spent the better part of Thursday morning (last week) getting a feel of the situation from some of the tenants whose lives have been turned upside down by the eviction notice, which expects them to have vacated the premises and paid all their defaulted rentals by January,31st, 2018.
“I do not have the money I owe the council for defaulted rentals, I might end up in jail, old as I am,” says 58-year-old Bogadinyana Keikanne, who has been operating from stall No 17 since 1994.
Keikanne’s livelihood has been adversely affected and so would be her grandchildren and her old mother’s lives, who are still her dependents.
70-year-old Kakale Nlebgwa, affectionately known as Rra-Bathusi, also a long-time vendor at the bus rank, worries about the impact the evictions will have on the dynamics of business at the bustling micro-business hub.
“I help a lot of unemployed youth through the sale of frozen Cool Time juice, which I get from South Africa, I give them stock at a reduced price to sell, they give me back my money after selling the product and they make some money for themselves in the process,” he says, before posting the question; “Where do we go if my business shuts down?”
Responding to questions from this publication on the issue, the GCC Senior Public Relations Officer, Ethel Koma said the 176 vendors owe the council well over P8 million in rentals, P8, 993, 757.85 to be precise. The money was calculated as at end of December 2017.
“Apart from the rentals, some shortfalls discovered by the Council emanated from the fact that some tenants were subletting while others behaved like the stalls were hereditary. Some tenants treat these stalls like inheritance and pass them on to other family members once they no longer operate,” said Koma.
Speaking on the future of the market place, Koma said the GCC plans to privatize the management and refurbishment of the market stalls.
“The market stalls will be closed until the completion of the management process leading to the signing of the contract with the company that would have won the bidding to manage the stalls,” she explained.