By ANDREW MUKOMA
ONE hundred and sixty curio traders at Livingstone’s Mukuni Park Curio market, are at the verge of being evicted from the trading place for failing to pay over K200,000 in rentals arrears.
This follows the Livingstone City Council’s circular addressed to the traders to vacate the market for defaulting payments for over a year.
Council Assistant Public Relations Manager, Mumba Mafwenko, said the curio traders were advised in December last year to remit rentals after they were due but did not comply.
But the traders said the termination of the lease of agreement for defaulting on rentals does not warrant an eviction.
Curio Traders Association Chairman, John Walubita, said in Livingstone that his members feel betrayed because the local authority was aware about their challenges, leading to failure to pay rentals.
Mr Walubita argued that the traders had closed shops as the tourists were not traveling due to restrictions occasioned by COVID-19.
He blamed the past regime under the Patriotic Front administration of failing to disburse the COVID-19 relief fund which he said only benefited individual artists.
Mr Walubita recalls that former President Edgar Lungu visited the traders in August last year and assured them of the fund.
The City Council has however maintained that the traders would be evicted because their association was not remitting funds as agreed in the lease agreement.
The Mukuni Park Curio Market structure was constructed under the funding from the World Bank through the Tourism Ministry in 2008 under the MMD government.