Not all roses at flower market

Faldiela Gamieldien said the situation at Trafalgar Place has improved.

Some of the flower sellers at Trafalgar Place in Adderley Street say the City is finally paying attention to the state of the historic market following an article about the dire condition of the site.

The article, published by the Cape Argus, details some of the issues the flower sellers were facing after the Covid-19 pandemic up to now.

In the article, fourth generation flower seller Faldiela Gamieldien said the pandemic was the most difficult time for the flower sellers, and since then, it has been difficult to recover. She said the government did little to include them, or check on them.

However, a few days after the article, Ms Gamieldien said Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis and the City had come out to inspect the premises and note the repairs they needed to do.

She said the City had also availed two parking bays in front of Trafalgar Place, which was previously a loading zone, so that people who come to buy flowers can easily access the market.

“They (the City) are making progress and we are happy.

“They are coming for the paving and they said they were going to fix the pipe and the lights that we were struggling with. They are helping.”

However, some of the other flower sellers did not agree with Ms Gamieldien, and said the City paid little attention to the heritage site, and only came out when an article was written, only to ignore their plight once the story died down.

Gaironesa Oliver says the flower sellers need to be included in meetings and plans for Trafalgar Place

Gaironesa Oliver, who had been a flower seller for almost 30 years after her parents left her the business, said the market is being neglected by the government.

She said after they returned by “public demand” they had to clean the market from their own pockets, and provide their own sanitiser. “The City came to give us these things after we already had to do it ourselves.

“We had to survive on our own. Business went bad and we had to live from hand to mouth. Yes, many people unfortunately died due to Covid 19, but that was where our orders came from, but due to the knock-on effects of the pandemic on our suppliers, flower prices were exorbitant and people really couldn’t afford it.”

She said the parking bays were opened, but they weren’t privatised for the customers of the flower sellers, so everyone parks there, which doesn’t really help the situation. “We feel neglected. We need to breathe new life into the market. We need a clean space that’s attractive for tourists and customers alike. We need better access to the market.”

While Ms Gamieldien said the Trafalgar Place flower sellers committee was also trying to assist by meeting with stakeholders to get work done, Ms Oliver said the committee does not report back and does not have enough clout to take on the officials.

The City said while they were aware of the plight of the flower sellers, the hold-up was because of a court application by the City to get the lease ceded by the new owners of Grand Central.

Mayco member of economic growth, James Vos, said the flower sellers’ area was included in the lease to Grand Central, which is still being resolved with the new owners.

“The historical lease cession dispute is the subject of a High Court application by the City as no agreement could be reached by the parties. This has delayed the implementation of our long-term planning.“

He said they have, however, kept up a watching brief and had reinstalled taps after the national lockdown and painted Covid-19 demarcation lines for the traders.

He said the pathway in the alley had also been fixed, and stolen light bulbs had been replaced.

Mayco member for urban mobility, Rob Quintas, added that an investigation into options to improve access to the flower sellers in Adderley Street was undertaken in 2021 and a report was submitted to Sub-council 16, which includes the CBD, where it was recommended that the cycle lane be retained and that the loading bay in front of the flower sellers be redesigned to provide two demarcated on-street parking bays and the remainder of the bay be retained for loading purposes.

He said the existing on-street parking bays along Adderley and Darling streets provide an opportunity for parking within walking distance of the flower sellers.

Meanwhile, the chairperson of the Trafalgar Place flower sellers committee, Irefaan Williams, said after they had a meeting with the mayor at the end of June this year, things started changing. “There are improvements. They sorted out some of the things that were urgent, and they are also looking at the roof. It is a step in the right direction.”

Asked about the accusations by some of the flower sellers that the committee had no clout, he said he understood their frustration as the committee had been meeting with the City and with Grand Central on numerous occasions, and nothing has been done up to now.

He said there were also inside politics, but these issues had little to do with the “bigger picture”, which was to get the market to the vibrant space that he once knew.

“My grandparents from both sides traded on this market, and it used to be an amazing market. We have a goal to get the market back to the space it was in when I was a child.”

He said while some of the flower sellers complained that the committee was not doing anything to assist the situation, they were doing everything within their power.

“This is pure volunteer work. The market is an important space in Cape Town and we want it to be treated that way. That is the main aim.”

He said the committee reports back to the flower sellers whenever they meet with the City, or when they have updates on the situation.

The CapeTowner called Grand Central Mall and was told the owners were Rebosis Property Fund. We made several phone calls but did not get a comment by the time this article was published.