The government’s announcement to address the issues raised by agitating street vendors in the next three days has come as a sigh of relief to the business operators. A team of representatives from the Home Ministry, Kathmandu Metropolitan City, traffic police and vendors made field visits identifying and agreeing on various alternative vending zones in the Capital on Tuesday.
Vendors have welcomed the move made by the government for being included in the area identification process along with other stakeholders. After declining the seven vending zones designated by the government citing the decision was made without their consultations, the vendors have now suggested the government to provide them alternate areas in close proximity to their previous business zones. The areas identified and agreed by the stakeholders and the vendors include— pavement on Koteshwor- Jadibuti road, pieces of land west side of Kalanki-Balkhu road and east of Om hospital in Chabahil as well as the north pavement of Pashupati- Airport road section. Vendors also remain positive on setting up their business along either side of the pavements on the stretch from Tukucha Bazaar to Nepal Tourism Board, which is likely to be turned into a one-way road with a diversion. “Since these areas are more feasible for us, we have expressed our interest to operate in these places. Our vendor operators will not have to disperse far from where they used to run their businesses,” said Maya Gurung, secretary at Nepal Street Vendors Union (NEST).
The vendors have also urged the government to re-open Khulamanch as an alternate zone for the displaced vendors in Sundhara, Jamal and Ratnapark. “ It would be a great to reopen Khulamanch since the street vendors, then, would not have to occupy the city centred pavements,” said Gurung. Spokesperson at the Home Ministry Shankhar Prasad Koirala said the focus right now is on identifying possible areas for vending zones. “We will try and address the issue promptly,” said Koirala. “The identification is being done with an understanding between vendors and other stakeholders, resulting in a win-win situation for both sides.” The government had earlier designated vending zones and timetable schedules which included northern stretch of the Narayanhiti Museum compound on Sundays from 5 pm onwards, Bagmati Corridor on Mondays from 2 pm onwards and Dhobikhola on Thursdays from 2 pm onwards. Other designated areas included Post Office-Nepal Telecom stretch at Sundhara on Fridays from 5 pm onwards, Bir Hospital- Mahabouddha stretch and southern stretch of Exhibition Road on Saturdays from 2 pm onwards.
The vendors, however, declined the offer with a view that these zones would not have access to consumers scattered in various areas. The vendors have also urged the government to form separate rules and policies for street businesses, keeping record of the entire family members involved in such business activities and special social security scheme for the operators. “The government hasn’t been serious on ensuring our safety and security,” said Kumar Sapkota, a member representing vendors in the team. “We have asked the government, out of desperation, to create an environment for us to sustain our business in order to feed ourselves.” Street vendors were on protest after authorities barred them from running their businesses on the sidewalks of Kathmandu. They had rejected the vending zones designated by the government earlier.
Source: The Kathmandu Post