The Western Forecourt of the Khayelitsha train station is primarily defined by a pedestrian desire line from residential areas to the station. Spaces along this pedestrian walkway have been filled in haphazardly by informal traders in the absence of any planning or attempts to manage the space. The station stairs and deck are lined with informal traders who do not have permission to trade there and who pose a safety risk in the event of an emergency. There are open spaces that have not been developed by private land owners or the Municipality There are no residential units or mixed use buildings in the area, nor any form of place management. After it becomes dark the area is very dangerous. Lack of access to affordable business premises was raised as a major issue in the baseline survey of local businesses. There was a group of informal traders around the Western Forecourt area who have been in an informal association (Ntlazane Traders Association) for over ten years and who were recommended to VPUU as the most organised structure in the area.
An urban design framework was prepared through participatory approaches for the Harare neighbourhood which identified this forecourt as a hub for trading and retail activities. In line with this plan a rezoning was conducted for a council owned property to accommodate members of the Ntlazane Traders Association by providing trading, business and residential accommodation in line with VPUU’s principles for a SN. The pedestrian walkway has been formalised and is well lit.
VPUU’s approach of identifying potential user groups and engaging with them in order to form a Facility Management Committee is a labour intensive investment in trust building and capacity development. However, the approach leads the community to take stronger ownership of the relationship with the municipality and responsibility to look after facilities.
Over time VPUU has moved from intensive facility level committee identification, development and mentoring to an area-wide approach of working with the SNAC Operations and Maintenance Portfolio and a Facility Advisory Committee made up of representatives from the various Tenants Committees in an area. The initial approach of individual Facility Management Committee development is described below.
Initial discussions with the Ntlazane Traders Association on their potential involvement in advising on managing a traders’ facility led to a ten day training course with the traders on Operational Development, business management and Facilities Management. As a trial of the group’s organisational capacity, they signed an agreement to help manage storage for their members in 6 shipping containers. After the training, VPUU and the traders wanted to work together in the future as they found useful synergies.
A ‘learning by doing’ methodology was employed for key tasks like budgeting and financial planning, operational planning, facility policies and constitution development. This resulted in the group writing their own constitution and discussions on facility policies, which, in turn, led to policies which were included in a facility Operations and Management manual. In order to deepen skills and build trust, regular mentoring sessions followed the initial training.
Significant skill building is not realistic in such a short course, and especially without opportunities for people to put in practice what they have learned and to receive feedback and further coaching.
Helpful knowledge and skills for training and mentoring Facilities Management Committee includes:
One of the key success factors for the trader’s facility was that local traders who were organised were the ones with whom VPUU was actively engaged. This follows the approach of designing facilities appropriate for local context and involving users actively in design and management. It was a transparent engagement.
Facility sustainability is an important VPUU principle and it was important to work closely with the Ntlazane traders to develop the facility budgets and set break even rentals, especially in an area where people are not used to paying market related rent or any rent at all. The process was greatly facilitated by the trusting relationship developed during the training period. Part of the training also included a visit to another small trader’s facility, where in depth discussions were held with the facility manager and business owners. It gave further insights to the group as to the importance of setting rental levels appropriately and how non-payment of rent leads to compromises with the management of a facility.
Facility sustainability also requires that traders surrounding the new facility paid comparable rentals. This required a trading plan development process as part of legal compliance with the City of Cape Town’s Informal Trading By-Law. The Ntlazane traders were helpful partners in supporting VPUU work through the public participation processes with local traders. Security at commercially oriented facilities is a cost factor described previously.
The Khayelitsha Station trader’s facility and Live-Work Units are not currently financially self-sustaining and probably will not be until the City purchases additional land which was part of the original vision for the area. The City Business Areas Management team from the Economic Development department were key partners for helping to work out facility management issues as well as the trading plan processes that needed to unfold in order to help make the facility work.
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