Business owners shut down parts of Nelson Mandela Bay
They want small businesses to get a 30% share of all major tenders awarded by the City
Over 300 small and medium business owners in Nelson Mandela Bay closed down several municipal buildings and the offices of several councillors on Tuesday. They are demanding that Mayor Eugene Johnson give them a 30% share of all the City’s major tenders.
The small business owners say they gave the mayor an ultimatum on 22 February and decided to protest when there was no response to their demands.
Police spokesperson Colonel Priscilla Naidu said protests started after 6:30am with about 60 people who blocked Harrower Road in North End. “Public Order Policing attended the protest and stun grenades were fired to disperse the crowd. Three people were arrested for public violence but were later released,” said Naidu.
Meanwhile, groups of protesters went to councillors’ offices in wards 42 to 48, also shutting down the Despatch and Uitenhage Town Halls, Cuyler depot, Uitenhage Traffic Department and the Uitenhage library.
Chairperson of the Local Business Committee (LBC), Glen Tsomo, which claims about 5,000 members in Nelson Mandela Bay, disputed allegations that the protests were not peaceful. “We did not disrupt traffic during the protest. They arrested some of our members for no reason.”
“We want answers from the mayor about the 30% she owes us, that’s all,” he said.
Some protesters then went to Bay West, where Mayor Johnson was attending an oversight visit with Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure Patricia de Lille and Deputy Minister Noxolo Kiviet.
At one point, Johnson and De Lille were surrounded by protesters who were demanding answers from the mayor. To quell the group, Johnson told the crowd that De Lille was about to launch the N2 Nodal Development project. She said that 45 small and medium businesses would benefit.
The LBC’s deputy chair, Lindile Bobani, challenged this claim. .
Late on Tuesday, Bobani said the business owners were in a meeting with the mayor and minister to discuss their demands.
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