EU-funded flea market project off target

KAROI — Completion of the European Union (EU)-funded state-of-the-art flea market bankrolled to the tune of EUR150 000 set to be completed by August is far off the mark.

The development could result in the continued mushrooming of illegal street vendors in the small farming town, 190km west of the capital Harare.

Karoi Town Council secured EUR135 000 from the EU and was expected to put in 10% of the project’s total expenditure.

Construction of the three-block double-storey project stalled due to the unavailability of building materials on the market.

Project co-ordinator Freddy Mumiriki yesterday said activity had begun at the site, located in the central business district extension following procurement of building materials and the first block could be completed by the end of September.

Mumiriki, however, said the construction of two other blocks depended on availability of funds.

“The first block is at lintel level and should be complete in September, although our initial target was August for the entire project to have been completed.
EU had specified that we finish inside 30 months, but with the escalating cost of materials, particularly cement, completion of the other two blocks would be determined by whether funds are available or not,” he said.

The delay had seen a rise in the number of illegal street vendors in the town where vending is the livelihood of most residents.

As a result, illegal vendors are daily engaging in a cat-and-mouse game with the municipal police, while others operate from makeshift stalls made of plastic at the few designated vending sites.

Karoi Vendors’ Association committee member Rex Kotsi urged council to expedite construction of the flea market to stop illegal vending along the streets.

Council finance director Wellington Mutikani disclosed the local authority had so far received a total of EUR120 700 for the project.

Beneficiaries of the project would include illegal street vendors, orphans and vulnerable children, the disabled, widows and people living with HIV, among other disadvantaged groups.

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