The Metropolitan Trading Company (MTC) takes care of informal traders and taxis, giving developmental support to the sector and managing the facilities the City has set aside for micro retailers and taxi operators. It is a municipal-owned entity established in 1999. There are 12 markets and taxi ranks under its control, strategically located throughout Johannesburg. These include the City’s street trading programme in the inner city and markets in Hillbrow, Yeoville and the Metro Mall in the central business district. In all, these markets accommodate about 5 000 informal traders.
The Metro Trading Company’s vision is to be a quality provider of market and transport interchanges in Johannesburg.
It aims to be the leading provider and manager of quality infrastructure and business support services to market traders and taxi operators operating in the City of Johannesburg.
In the quest to fulfil its vision, the MTC aims to bring about organised and well-managed trading throughout Johannesburg. In meeting its responsibilities towards the management of informal trading, it aims to scale up efforts to make informal traders part of the formal economy.
Projects and Programmes:
It has set up several programmes to ensure informal trading and the taxi industry in Joburg run smoothly.
Informal Trader Audit
It is busy establishing an informal trading database for the entire city. All informal traders will be registered with the MTC, with the audit and registration working as an amnesty for all those traders who are not on the MTC database.
The MTC is on the verge of rolling out a smart card for all informal traders in areas managed by the MTC. This card will contain the trader’s photograph, identity number or identification details, trading area, product and other related information. The smart card system will aid by-law enforcement and monitoring.
Shortly after the inception of the inner city street trading programme, a block cleaning programme was introduced. It is aimed at encouraging traders to keep their areas clean. The programme has worked in some areas and the MTC is looking into intensifying it.
Linear Market Model
The company, together with the department of economic development, has undertaken a study to identify possible linear market areas in the inner city. The aim is to move away from street trading in its current form into a more viable trading environment.
These linear markets will serve as incubators where traders’ developmental needs will be identified and programmes will be set up to focus on those needs. This will ensure that traders grow and move into more formal businesses.
Co-Operatives Support and Mentorship Programme
Among its major projects, the MTC has, since 2006, assisted a group of informal traders to organise themselves into groups that are registered and incorporated as co-operatives at the national Department of Trade and Industry.
To date between 25 and 30 co-operatives have been organised, a few of which are not yet registered. In February 2007, the company held a workshop for about 25 co-operatives to maintain the development momentum. The workshop was held to educate informal traders on the benefits and technical aspects of co-operatives as a means of job creation, poverty alleviation and economic empowerment.
The mentorship programme has been set up to understand traders’ needs and to help them to find creative ways of overcoming the challenges they encounter. It also focuses on the skills that traders need to improve.
The programme has been rolled out to all facilities managed by the MTC and to the streets. It is an ongoing initiative.