Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Public Transport shelters with multiple usage?

A bus shelter designed based on a European standard may not be good for South Africa, just like some by-laws that are not good in this democratic times but were passed into law during the Apartheid times. Take the City of Johannesburg street trading bylaws which prohibit traders from selling on sidewalks or any amenities that the council sees fit and the difficulties that they face. I was made to write about this topic by the fact that these days the traders who the council will call illegal traders are filling up the public passenger shelters by using them as their trading points. They know that it is in the shelter that passengers wait to take their respective modes of public transport and therefore the chances are higher that the perspective client will buy their products while the shelter is protecting their products and themselves from lighting/coldness.

This is more popular along the Oxford road where public transport shelters are spread along the road and when I saw this I asked myself where will passengers keep themselves warm should it start raining. In some cases, traders sell their products along sidewalks and where space is a problem, there are always clashes between traders and pedestrians. I for one have in a number of times incidentally walked over the trader’s products and though they never fought with me some people are not that lucky.

Picture 4: A Street vendor selling goods on a sidewalk. Where public passengers stops are a target, public transport shelters are used

Picture 5: Traders and sidewalks can sometimes clash

Now, how about we support those vendors by building shelters that will also accommodate them so that passengers can have something to chew while waiting for a bus or that taxi and for passengers not to compete with traders for space? How one can go about doing that is open but the first step is for the government to recognize the role that street vendors play in our economy and society as declared here by the The Bellagio International Declaration of Street Vendors. Here are some ideas;

  • Municipalities may encourages traders to sell in public transport shelters but sign agreements where traders keep the shelters and its amenities clean everyday;or
  • Municipalities erects trading stalls near the public transport shelters but then traders pay a monthly payment or a yearly payment; or
  • Municipalities allows anyone to sell along the sidewalks but ensures that they clean their area and where this is not followed traders get a fine or stock is sold to make payments; or
  • In terms of enforcement, a private company is hired to do the enforcement instead of metro policemen whose salaries don’t justifies the enforcement of law.

Getting this done by municipalities is only the best way to do, especially when the country is faced with a high unemployment rate of more than 25% and a high crime rate. Trying to enforce people to sell on demarcated areas not only increases costs of policing but leaves millions of poorly educated individuals relying on the government. To close up, this issue reminds me of people who burns coal in the corners of Johannesburg streets to keep warm. One could say that they are causing air pollution and damaging the city’s beauty. But then a question that we should ask ourselves is whether the perpetrators should be stopped to burn the coal and get the cold which will leave them seeking medical attention from the government hospitals or should the city beauty be compromised?

No comments: