The hugely popular Somerset West festive season night market may be held earlier this year, if the City of Cape Town’s proposed dates are approved. Traders are up in arms over the fact that the event called the Festival Under the Lights may be held from the 2 – 14 December. The night market is a long standing tradition in the Western Cape and draws thousands of capetonians annually to the seaside event.
The proposed change has angered traders, who held a meeting at a packed Darul Islam hall in Surrey Estate on Monday evening. According to the festival facilitator Taj Akleker, traders are vehemently opposed to the new dates due to the slow economic activity during that time.
“We cannot compromise on the date and times. Some learners are still writing and most businesses have not closed for the festive season. For us to buy all the stock and to stand in the Main Road ….its really not feasible for us to trade during that time,” he told VOC Breakfast Beat.
Akleker said the meeting concluded a mandate to re-negotiate with the City on this matter. The City has in turn agreed to discuss the issue further.
Amongst the reasons given for the new dates is the City’s lack of resources during the busy festive season, the increase in beachgoers and crime on the N2.
“Whether you come from Cape Town, the Boland or the surrounding area, the City has to ensure there are resources to safeguard the public. We can’t stop the festive season because the N2 is dangerous. To give us these reasons is nonsense. We don’t buy it,” Akleker said.
According to an agreement reached between the City and traders in 2006, the main road in Somerset West may be closed for trading at night during the festive season. It states that the night market must be held from the 15th to the 23rd December. Akleker said traders have over the years, abided by that proclamation.
“For the last 20 years, we have met every single prerequisite from the city, such as security, paramedics and public liability cover. From a compliance perspective, we have done our bit and there haven’t been any major incidents.”
Organisers of the festival also hope to meet with SAPS to look at adequate policing during the festive period.
“We will exhaust every single avenue with the City before we mobilise traders. This is an important event as it provides an income for unemployed people and gives dignity to families. There are a number of economic spinoffs for this festival and the entire informal trading sector in the city.” VOC