Vehicle ablaze at the Chiango roundabout
Large contingents of Mozambican police occupied many of the streets in downtown Maputo early on Tuesday morning, thus making it impossible for informal traders to hawk their wares on the pavements.
The operation involved the normal police force (PRM), the riot police (UIR), the municipal police, and a police dog unit.
Taken by surprise, the informal traders found they were unable to launch anything similar to the riots they staged on 13 March. Then, in protest against the decision of the Maputo Municipal Council to move them all off the streets and into the municipal markets, they threw up barricades and set tyres on fire, while singing songs to protest against the supposed injustice of the municipal authorities.
On that day, the demonstrators also attacked formal shops, smashing their windows. Their owners hastily closed their doors. The protesters stoned buses of the municipal bus company, EMTPM, and destroyed traffic lights. Heavily armed police units eventually dispersed the protesters.
This time, the police got there first. The traders also found that the city authorities had seized their merchandise from the places where they habitually leave them, on the evening of the previous day.
One of the traders told AIM “We’ve lost our goods because, early in the morning, they entered the various places where we leave our wares, and collected everything. We don’t know where they’ve taken it all”.
They claimed that they have never refused to abandon the streets and the pavements, but merely want the municipal authorities to give them somewhere else where they can sell their goods.
But the City Council points out that there are thousands of unoccupied stalls in the municipal markets, and the informal traders can be accommodated there. The municipal markets are, of course, controlled by the municipality, and anyone selling goods there must pay taxes.
According to the spokesperson for the Council, Albertina Tivane, for the past year the municipality has been in discussions with the ten associations who claim to represent the informal traders. That dialogue has centred on how to move the traders into the 5,000 or so unoccupied places in the municipal markets.
“We shall proceed with the involvement of the informal traders themselves”, she said. “This is a gradual action, and we don’t think we’ll end it today or tomorrow. It’s a continual action”.
She pointed out that the current filthy conditions under which informal trade is practiced, constitute an invitation to the spread of disease. The threat informal trade poses to public health is now more menacing than ever with the Covid-19 pandemic.Source: AIM
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