Traders storm out of market meeting

ANGRY traders from the Early Morning Market opposed to its demolition and relocation stormed out of a meeting with the eThekwini municipality yesterday.

Instead they chose to protest outside the City Hall where the meeting was held.

The proposed relocated of the Early Morning Market on Warwick Junction is to make way for a mall, road infrastructure, taxi and bus ranks in time for 2010 World Cup.

It has since been rejected by the Early Morning Market traders and several other entities refusing to move from the site they have occupied for 99 years.

The city yesterday invited traders from Durban and surrounding areas to the City Hall to brief them on the latest plan to accommodate traders on the ground floor of the proposed new mall.

eThekwini municipality manager Mike Sutcliffe said: "We have consulted with the retail shops that according to the previous designs were to occupy the ground floor of the mall.

"Instead that portion of the mall will be set aside for Early Morning Market traders."

Sutcliffe said the traders would first be moved to another site, which was about 30 metres away from the present market.

They would then be brought to the new mall once construction was completed before 2010.

Chaos erupted when eThekwini municipality business support manager Phillip Sithole announced that a memorandum of understanding was to be signed by trader organisations in support of the development projects at Warwick Junction, Beachfront and other areas.

The document would spell out an agreement that the developments should not interfere or victimise traders.

The Early Morning Market traders and 25 other representatives stormed out of the meeting.

Representatives of those opposed to the deal also vowed to protest today outside the Durban high court where their case against the city to stop the development is being heard.

Lawyers representing the traders said their clients would not move and that all stakeholders involved should give their submissions to the judge. A date for the hearing would then be set.

"This meeting was a set up and called to exploit us by making us sign for something that we were not even briefed about," the traders said.

Phumzile Xulu of Streetnet International said: "At first the city made a presentation and showed us a map showing the development and how the Early Morning Market did not feature anywhere in the plans.

"Now that they have finally seen why we are refusing to move they have developed a new plan.

"But we want to see these plans on paper before we can sign. For now it is just hearsay, we are not prepared to sign anything."