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Stallholders in the Nwankakana informal market are refusing to leave the area without compensation, thus threatening to delay the conclusion of the northern access road to the new suspension bridge over the Bay of Maputo, linking the centre of the city to the outlying urban district of Katembe.
On Monday the stallholders met with the Mayor of Maputo, David Simango and with Silva Magaia, chairperson of Maputo-Sul, the state company that owns the bridge. According to a report in Tuesday’s issue of the independent daily “O Pais”, the meeting made no progress, despite attempts to mediate by Francisco Mabjaia, Maputo first secretary of the ruling Frelimo Party.
The stallholders said they would not move without the compensation that Maputo-Sul had supposedly promised them in 2011. But Magaia told the meeting that Maputo-Sul does not have funds in its coffers to pay the stallholders, and that it had been agreed with the Municipal Council that the best solution was to build a new municipal market where the stallholders would be transferred.
Simango assured the sellers that the Council had not received any money from Maputo-Sul to compensate them.
The Council had believed that the stallholders would simply move into the new market as it become ready to accommodate them. “When the first pavilion began, it was agreed that, as soon as it was concluded, some of you would fill the space, while we finished the second pavilion”, Simango recalled. “But after the work was finished, you went back to demanding compensation. The municipality has received no money”.
Among the stallholders’ excuses are that the stalls in the new market are too small, and that since Maputo-Sul compensated people displaced from their homes by the bridge, they too should be compensated.
But there was never any doubt that citizens who lost homes that they owned would be compensated. The market stallholders, however, have no title to the land they are occupying, which belongs to the municipality.
Simango noted that the stallholders had hired a lawyer to defend them and had sent complaints to the Prime Minister’s Office and to the Minister of State Administration. He suggested that the legal processes they had embarked on could continue while they moved out of the informal market and allowed construction of the approach road.
“You can continue claiming compensation, but without prejudicing the construction work”, said the Mayor.
But his proposal was rejected. “We are not leaving here without money”, declared one stallholder, Elidio Vilanculo, cited by “O Pais”.
The only agreement at the meeting was that the stallholders will set up a commission to represent them in continuing dialogue in which Frelimo will also be involved. Meanwhile, conclusion of the bridge and its access roads slips further behind schedule.
Mabjaia said he had no doubt that unnamed forces are agitating the stallholders in order to obtain political dividends.
But he also said that everything possible would be done to find the money demanded by the stallholders – which would thus reward them for blackmail and for squatting on municipal property.Source: AIM