After a year-long battle to be relocated to Pont de Paris in Port Louis, the hawkers from Desforges Street in the capital are now complaining that business is too slow at their newsite.
They worry that their regular customers have not followed them to their new “home” – and they are now holding the municipality responsible for their plight.
The complaints come from those hawkers who operate at night, mainly those selling food.
After office hours, they say, the Pont de Paris does not attract customers, whereas Desforges Street is busier and there are more people around. There is also a lack of parking in the new area, they complain.
“People hardly come inside. They just buy foods which are available in the front stalls due the lack of parking. We are losing patience. The hawkers situated at the back hardly receive any clients.
“Our stuff is perishable. We cannot even keep it for the next day as it will get stale. We are making a loss,” said MrWaeza Fockena.
Mr Sadeck Hisaund is also not a happy hawker, explaining that he prepares 30 plates of briyani and is selling only one or two every night.
Mrs Huzaifa Emambocus joins the chorus: “Yesterday 51 plates of briyani went to waste. I had employed people to work with me as helpers but the way it is going, I am compelled to stop them from working as I cannot afford the cost anymore,” she says.
The Lord Mayor of Port Louis, Dr Mahmad Khodabaccus, told NEWSNOW that the business is not the same during weekdays as it is at weekends. According to him it is “a matter of habit”.
The hawkers have to be patient, he says, and gradually people will be coming to buy food. “I have been to Pont de Paris several times after the relocation to see if the hawkers are able to manage. I could see that those dealing in grills, Shawarma and other foodstuffs are selling well. Those who were not allocated the front stalls are complaining and trying to create a problem where there is none.”
The lord mayor told NEWSNOW that some 40 non-food hawkers will be relocated to Pont de Paris by next week.
“Desforges Street is now a ‘no hawker zone’. Selling any product on that street is considered illegal. The police force and the municipal officers are alert.”
The lord mayor said a total of 2,500 hawkers are operating in the capital. Once Desforges Street is cleared, other streets will follow.
A ministerial committee is looking at the relocation of traders working in La Corderie and Remy Ollier streets, among others. “Those working in John Kennedy, Célicourt Anthelme and Monneron streets will be relocated to Victoria Station.
“We have identified land and are proceeding with verifications before going ahead with the next steps towards relocation,” said Dr Khodabaccus.