Businesses on Florida Road optimistic about the Open Streets programme

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Businesses along Florida Road in Durban are optimistic that the Open Streets programme will bring back patrons to their establishments.

Businesses in the area say the number of people visiting Florida Road has decreased since the murder of rapper AKA at a popular restaurant on the strip.

Florida Road was closed as the Open Streets programme got underway. Open Streets is about pedestrianizing some busy areas for Durbanites and visitors on occasion, as well as creating accessible and safe spaces for a day-long, outdoor, pop-up event.

Open Streets Florida Road offers food, health and lifestyle stalls and a range of family activities. Stalls have been erected along the road with jumping castles to entertain children. The manager of Capello Restaurant, Succeed Muringane, says he believes this program will help business pick up. He says they appreciate police visibility.

“This thing of Mega’s death was very bad. Since that incident police every time we see them on the road parking they are looking after us. So they must continue like that they mustn’t stop dealing with all these things. And also people won’t be afraid to come because they will see police.”

Emerging entrepreneurs used the opportunity to showcase their businesses on the side of the street. Owner of Laloba Organics, Seipati Mokgosi makes and sells products for natural hair and skin.

“We are really really excited to actually block off the whole of Florida Road is so amazing, and for a small business in Durban. It’s so important to have these kinds of platforms where you can just come in and showcase what you do and let people enjoy your product, and more so because when you don’t have a store, these are the platforms that really work,” says Mokgosi.

Meanwhile, parents brought their children to enjoy themselves in the Open Streets without being disturbed by traffic as Florida was closed throughout the day.

“It’s very funny; it’s lovely to be part of the Iconic Street and it has had negative press over the last few months. So it’s great that Durban is taking back its power and saying that we here and we won’t let negativity get us down, for the spirit of Durban is alive and well,” says a parent.

The Head of Transport Authority in eThekwini municipality, Thami Manyathi says through the programme they want to encourage communities to look after each other.

Manyathi adds, “Bringing out members of the communities of different walks of life to be all together in an open space provides the safety that is often lacking. And we’re hoping that you’re looking that way not only here on Florida Road, but when you go out looking at the community, you would appreciate that in some areas after dark, people are afraid to walk out, walking the streets. That is not right. That should be corrected and addressed, and we are hoping that by having programmes of this nature communities will start being bold and looking after each other as well.”

Manyathi says the programme will be moved to different parts of the city.