By Emily Setona
QWAQWA –Informal traders operating from Setsing Plaza who were initially opposed to the reconstruction of the centre fearing loss of jobs, joined the sod turning ceremony on Tuesday, after management promised to accommodate them in the building by erecting stalls for them.
The sod turning finally took place after months of drawn out consultations and tough negotiations between the Setsing Hawker’s Association and Nthoese Development management. It was preceded by the signing of the final contract that gives this development project the go-ahead.
Setsing Hawker’s Association chairperson Rapetswa Motlatso told The Guard that this was a momentous occasion because the road that led here was not an easy one.
“This was not simple, it was hectic. Political leaders of the previous administration wanted to sideline the hawkers. The development was supposed to begin in February last year but we staged two shutdowns to show the politicians that we are a force to be reckoned with,” Motlatso said.
During a presentation in the Municipal Chamber, the development manager of Nthoese development, Tony Sousa who’s overseeing this project, said that the negotiations with the hawkers were tough but yielded positive results.
“What made this process difficult is the fact that the hawkers sell different products. We have based the design on the concept of Agripark, the kiosks will be able to be closed off, some hawkers sell fruits while others sell food. The kiosks will have access to water and electricity,” Sousa said.
The deputy secretary of the Setsing Hawkers Association, Nthabiseng Lesitha, said she was happy that this day had finally arrived.
“This was not an easy journey; the negotiations began last year and I recall the plans being changed four or five times before we were happy with the design of the kiosks. What Tony showed us today is exactly what we asked for,” Lesitha said.
Her sentiments were echoed by Mathoto Motaung who said; “As one of the hawkers who was here from the start, I am very happy with the plans and design I saw today.”
Herbert Theledi the founder of Nthoese Development enthused that their goal is always to engage and interact with the community.
“The hawkers are very important as they form the spine of our mainstream economy. Our primary aim is to have a positive impact on the community and help grow the economy,” Theledi added.