“I am very excited about the future of the Hermanus Market Square and all the stalls. I have been a trader in Hermanus myself for the past 25 years and know how much it takes to run a successful business.”

So says Jolene Nel, who last week officially took over the management of the Market Square stalls (often referred to as the red, or pigeon sheds), after she was granted a 10-year management contract by the Overstrand Municipality.

According to documentation that served before Council on 30 September, the tender process was started in November 2019 and was awarded to Nel in August this year by the bid adjudication committee. The tender document called for the lease, management, maintenance, and sub-lease of 34 of the stalls, as well as the upkeep of the ablution facilities. Only one tender to the value of R76 840 per month was received.

The previous management tender, awarded in 2015, was bedevilled with legal problems, as some of the then tenants, who leased their stalls directly from the municipality, questioned the validity of the management contract and refused to vacate their stalls.

A lengthy legal battle ensued, resulting in the previous managing agent, Arrie de Klerk, not being able to take up his duties until a year after the tender had been awarded to him. In September 2016, the Western Cape High Court ruled against the traders and found that the management contract could be implemented.

With the ruling in place, the stage was set for reimagining the look and composition of the various stalls, but poor economic trading conditions, the devastating riots in 2018 and the Covid-19 lockdown have made life very difficult for the traders since then.

However, Nel says she is optimistic about the future of the Market Square. “Being a trader myself and being familiar with the industry is a great advantage. Yes, we are all suffering due to the lockdown and various other factors, but we intend to keep the stalls going. We will work hard on maintaining a clean and friendly environment.

“First and foremost, we want to offer visitors and holidaymakers a place where they can walk, browse and relax. The Market Square is located in a prime business area and we want to ensure that there is something for everyone there. I am passionate about trading and I am looking forward to serving the stall holders and clients over the next decade,” says Nel.

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