By Annisa Essack
Fordsburg Square is a thriving square that is the site of a flea market and was recently known for being run-down. It offers an authentic shopping experience for tourists and locals, with a mix of local, Indian, and Middle Eastern influences. It is also the only night market in Gauteng.
The flea market recently received a much-needed facelift, and Radio Islam International spoke to Ward 58 Counsellor Mohamed Alex Christians on the upgrades.
Christians explained that he found that the market was not being run efficiently on taking up his position as counsellor. During an inspection of the market, the Mayor decided that the market be shut down permanently.
An investigation by the counsellor revealed that before 2016, R11 million earmarked for the market had gone missing, and nobody could account for the lost money.
When the Johannesburg Property Company decided to upgrade the facility, Christians jumped at the opportunity to refurbish the market and chose a hands-on approach to ensure that the project was completed satisfactorily.
The complete overhaul of the buildings ensured that stallholders were catered for in terms of their required amenities. The first phase of the project came at the cost of approximately R15 million.
Phase two saw the revamping of the train, a unique feature of the market. Much of the train was destroyed; however, the façade was kept, giving an authentic and old-world feel. The entire initiative at the end of the second phase came in at a whopping R21 million.
Stallholders have been made accountable to ensure that the upgrade is maintained. The traders are now paying more to the trading association, allowing for cleaners and security to be implemented. Christian also noted that store-owners in the vicinity were dumping their trash outside the market. However, after levying fines against the culprits, the practice was stopped.
Stall owners have welcomed the upgrades, which provides a better shopping experience for their customers. The facelift also brings favourable changes for the customers, particularly for those with disabilities – dedicated parking spaces and easy access for them. The revamp has also created a few more jobs for residents in the area.
Phases one and two are now complete. The market is once again a busy, lively hub providing more than 200 families with livelihoods.
[Listen] to the interview.