South Africa


Traders at historic Salt River Market will be excluded from new City development

Traders at historic Salt River Market will be excluded from new City development
Zubaida Adams says her family have been trading at the Salt River Market for more than 50 years. She and other traders fear they will lose their livelihoods when the market closes to make way for a social housing development. (Photo: Marecia Damons)

The new site is expected to deliver 216 social housing units in a nine-storey mixed-use development but people who have been trading in the vicinity question where they are now supposed to go.

Rumina Adams and her sister Zubaida say their family has been trading at the Salt River Market in Cape Town for more than 50 years. The sisters, like their parents and grandparents, sell an assortment of fresh fruit and vegetables, cooked meals, sweets and nuts among other things.

In July, Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis announced that the City of Cape Town had tabled the release of land for two major social housing projects which included the development and construction of the Salt River Market precinct. The site is expected to deliver 216 social housing units in a nine-storey mixed-use development.

However, the City has told GroundUp that the informal traders operating at the 17 units will not be included in the new development.

We visited the market this month and spoke to the informal traders who say the closure of the market would have a devastating impact on their livelihoods and the heritage of the community.

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“No one from the council told us about the City’s plans. It was just a complete shock to us. We’ve been trading here for so many years. This is our livelihood. If we don’t have this, then where do we go?” asked Adams. She said at least four households survive on the income from her stall and her sister Zubaida’s stall.

Zubaida Adams said although the traders were taken aback, many of them are not opposed to the development, provided that it “brings people back to Salt River”. She said they remain hopeful that the market will be accommodated once the development is completed.

Arthur De Bruyn, who runs a ship chartering business from the market with his wife Bonita, said nearly 100 jobs at the market are at stake.

De Bruyn said prior to Hill-Lewis’ announcement, officials from the Human Settlements department frequently visited the site but were “very tight-lipped” on the City’s plans. “The fact that they are going to start building means that plans have been drawn up already. We just want fair engagement and for them to talk to us,” he said.

Sashen Padayachi, who runs an automotive business at Salt River Market

Sashen Padayachi runs an automotive business from the market and employs four people. He is the sole breadwinner who supports his wife and two young children. (Photo: Marecia Damons)

Sashen Padayachi, who runs an automotive business, employs four people. “This is our livelihood, my bread and butter,” he said.

Padayachi said he moved from Pietermaritzburg six years ago to start the business. He is the sole breadwinner and supports his wife and their children aged 11 and five months.

“This actually leaves us in a bit of a predicament … Look at all the cost factors involved in moving, and getting all my cars out of here. Who’s going to compensate us for that?” he asked.

Mayoral Committee Member for Human Settlements Malusi Booi said the City had engaged “extensively” with local businesses and the public during a public participation process.

Booi said anyone with concerns had an opportunity to comment on the development during the City’s public participation process. “All comments received during the public participation process were considered and responded to,” said Booi.

But the traders we spoke to said they were never informed about this process to submit their comments.

Although there are no timelines yet for when construction will start at the Salt River Market precinct, Booi said, “The City will look at all available options and will provide assistance to the affected businesses, where possible.”

He said the City has more than 6,500 social housing units in the pipeline near important economic nodes. DM

A view of Salt River Market.

The site at the Salt River Market will provide 216 social housing units. (Archive photo: Ashraf Hendricks)

First published by GroundUp.


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Katharine Ambrose says:

    I hope they find a good new trading spot. It’s hard to replace a thriving market and harder still to find premises that are financially viable at stall holder level.

  • Peter Atkins says:

    The DA-controlled City is putting its foot in its mouth again! I hoped the new guys would have learnt a thing or two about how to work in a contested political environment – consult, consult, consult, compromise, compromise, put people above business, etc

  • Brandon VE says:

    I’ve never noticed an actual market in Salt River. I think it’s more like a couple informal traders. Warwick Avenue in Durban is a market, this spot hardly qualifies for the term.
    This doesn’t reduce the intention of the article though, it should just be rephrased to focus on traders and not give the impression there’s a huge thriving market there. There isn’t.

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