Counting heads

  • Street vendors census themselves to convince the government into providing more business spots
- SAMIK KHAREL, Kathmandu

May 10, 2014-

Organisations representing the street vendors, who were evicted by the government in February, are collecting the data of those people depended on the trade of selling merchandise off the sidewalks and public spaces in Kathmandu.

Claiming that the five alternative vending areas designated by the government cannot accommodate the displaced street merchants, these organisations hope that providing the number of street vendors to the government will support their demand for more vending zones.  

A nine-member committee, comprising of the members from three organisations representing the street vendors, is involved in the process of collecting the copy of citizenship and photos of the vendors and list them into the government’s plan.

“As the government has been trying to neutralise our demands by designating vending areas capable of accommodating only around 3,000 businesses, we are collecting the data of street vendors to convince the government,” said Kumar Sharma of Nepal Self Employment Business Workers’ Association. The association estimates that more than 20,000 street businesses were displaced in the government crackdown. While the database for the vendors registered with the three organisations could also be used for the listing, the organisations opted to form a different committee to avoid duplication and to exclude those who switched to different profession after eviction.

“Some of vendors may have registered their businesses in all three organisations. So, we thought we start afresh and come up with the most accurate data,” said Sharma.

The committee has finished collecting the data of around 2,000 vendors displaced from city centres like Jamal, Ratnapark, Sundhara and Khulamanch, so far. It expects to complete the task by next three days.

A taskforce was also formed last week comprising of the representatives from the government and the vendors to identify alternative vending areas. The locations recommended by the taskforce include, pavement on Koteshwor-Jadibuti road, areas west of Kalanki-Balkhu road, area east of Om hospital in Chabahil, pavement north of Pashupati-Airport road and the pavements on the stretch from Tukucha Bazaar to Nepal Tourism Board. However, the vendors have been saying these areas weren’t adequate to accommodate them all and that they will not accept it until every displaced vendors get a place to operate their business.

The government has also failed to address the vendors’ issue that it had pledged to solve in three days. The vendors have said that they are looking for a long-term solution to their problem.    

  “We don’t want some other government to kick us out from streets again. We have granted the government extra time to solve the issue permanently,” said Maya Gurung of Nepal Street Vendors Union.

The vendors have also urged the government to re-open Khulamanch as an alternative zone to accommodate the displaced vendors of Sundhara, Jamal and Ratnapark. However, the Kathmandu Metropolitan City has ignored the proposal.

Published: 11-05-2014 07:46

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