NEW DAWN: The Early Morning Market will be revamped. Pic. THULI DLAMINI. 12/07/2009. © Sowetan.
Used; Sowetan 09/10/2009. PG 07 KZN.
NEW DAWN: The Early Morning Market will be revamped. Pic. THULI DLAMINI. 12/07/2009. © Sowetan. Used; Sowetan 09/10/2009. PG 07 KZN.

The eThekwini municipality will come down hard on traders who own more than one stall at the Early Morning Market and will ensure that the poor people they have exploited for years get a slice of the action at the redeveloped site.

The threat was made at a public meeting in Durban's International Convention Centre on Friday, where city officials briefed traders on plans to develop the R400million mall and transport hub.

Officials seemed to have persuaded most of the audience that they would benefit by being allocated stalls at the new market and would not have to work for others.

City manager Mike Sutcliffe said officials had discovered that some people owned as many as 10 stalls from which they earned as much as R22million a year, though the poor who traded for them took home very little.

"There are people who own 10 stalls at the market," Sutcliffe said. "Some are renting these to others, while several have people working for them.

"We want to maintain the one-stall, one-trader policy and we are going to root out corruption so that the people can benefit."

Sutcliffe said the city wanted to ensure that those who had been exploited over the years benefited from the project and that only leaseholders would be allowed to trade.

Sutcliffe said the development would improve public transportation and would include a flyover to divert traffic from the congested area. This would create economic opportunities for formal and informal traders.

The developers of the Warwick shopping centre and the government would invest R1,5billion in the area over the next five years, creating job opportunities.

He said Warwick Junction was a key gateway to the city since more than 400000 bus, taxi and train commuters passed through it every day.

Hundreds of cars, trucks and taxis also drove through the area, making it one of the busiest and most dangerous intersections in the country.

The city came under fire when it announced plans to move the market to make way for the shopping centre at a site that traders have occupied for 99 years.

"We are not closing down the Early Morning Market, but we are planning to move it to another site because of the transportation rationalisation project," Sutcliffe said. "The new site is only about 300m from the current one.

"Legal street traders will be accommodated in a public square within the proposed mall development and along the pavement, with better trading and lock-up facilities."

The market will be temporarily moved to the corner of Market Road and Johannes Nkosi Street. The municipality would pay to move all traders, who will not pay rent for six months, he said.

Mayor Obed Mlaba said the development would be subsidised by the national government, which would provide 70percent of the cost.