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Informal traders in Alex will receive better designed, more environmentally friendly imbawulas, or coal stoves, that cut poisonous carbon emissions.
WHEN Salome Mashele, a 64-year-old who makes a living out of selling fried mealies and chicken feed on the streets of Alexandra, received the news that she would soon get a smokeless imbawula that would protect her from inhaling poisonous gases, she was delighted.


A City official demonstrates how a smokeless imbawula worksA City official demonstrates how a smokeless imbawula worksAn imbawula is a coal stove made out of a large tin, with holes in the side; it is designed to keep burning for a long period of time. Mashele, a mother of three, operates her business on the busy corner of Simmons and Watt avenues, close to the taxi and bus commuters who are her main customers.

“These imbawulas will help us a great deal because they do not produce poisonous gases [like] the normal imbawulas. The good thing about these imbawulas is that they burn faster, so this means we will be able to serve our customers quickly,” said Mashele.

She was joined by 24 other informal traders who joyfully hand-delivered a list of their names to the member of the mayoral committee for health, Nonceba Molwele, on 1 July at San Kopano Community Centre in Alexandra.

They will soon receive the environmentally friendly coal stoves, which are to be donated to the traders by the City’s environmental health directorate.

Speaking to the group, Molwele said the donation would show the City’s commitment to reducing air and environmental pollution. “We are going to be dealing with the issues of pollution at grass root level, and it begins with little initiatives like combating domestic pollution.


Salome MasheleSalome Mashele is delighted to get a new imbawula“This is in line with the Health Act of 2003, which defines environmental pollution control as one of the municipal health services to be managed and implemented by the environmental health directorate,” she said.

“Very soon we will identify 25 other traders who will also receive the same kind of imbawulas.”

The new imbawulas are designed to reduce carbon emissions produced by burning coal, and they have bigger holes on the sides to allow enough ventilation. They are smaller than the stoves traditionally used by streets traders, which allows them to burn faster.

However, Molwele urged the traders not to use imbawulas to warm themselves as they were not meant to be used indoors.

She also encouraged them not to dump refuse at illegal dumping spots. “Let us all join hands in looking after our environment. Dumping must only be done at designated dumping sites. This will make the job easier for Pikitup.”

Although the focus of the programme was on combating pollution, it was also an opportunity to empower small businesses. “We understand the hardship that these women go through on a daily bases to ensure that they feed their families.”

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