Saturday, 3 June, 2023

'Unfair to restrict street vendors from business as they are among hit hardest due to pandemic'


By Mukunda Gaire, Kathmandu, Sept.14: Stakeholders are of the view that the street venders should not be removed from the road.

Binod Shrestha, chairperson of the General Federations of the Nepalese Trade Unions (GEFONT) said that it was unfair to try to restrict the street and cart businesses of the street by the Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC).

He suggested letting them to work while ensuring that they fulfill health safety standard rather than removing them from their means of daily bread in the name of seeking an alternative solution to what they have been doing.

Street vendors are there to earn their living for they lack any better options in life, Shrestha shared his understating of street vendors.

These people are in a very vulnerable situation and to remove them from their businesses by showing the COVID-19 transmission fear is not fair. It is morally wrong to displace these people, he said.

Shrestha pointed at the need of long term policy on the part of the KMC for them so that they were provided with a fixed location and a good environment to run their business if they were not allowed to work in the streets.

Khil Nath Basnet, Chairperson of the Nepal Auto Rickshaw, e-rickshaw and Rickshaw and cart related labor union, warned of agitation if they were forcefully removed from their businesses.

It is not acceptable for us to see removal of people who are earning living by working on the street and footpath businesses by force, said chairperson Basnet.

Many people involved in this business are even evacuated from their rented house for they could not make income and pay the rent due to the lockdown and prohibitory order, he added.

Instead of providing with the support, the metropolitan is depriving people of their means and adding to the burden by making them unemployed, said Basnet.

A huge number of people are involved in street vendors that include cartwheel, footpath and rickshaw business throughout the country. There are 50,000 people in this sector in the Kathmandu Valley and more than 25,000 people are involved in it in Kathmandu District alone, said Basnet.

If the KMC wants us to remove form street, we give them data of people involved in it and they should guarantee us appropriate working place, food and shelter, he demanded.

To remove us from this business without option is to force us to starve to death, said Basnet, labor leader.

Street vendors go to the wholesale to purchase things in credit in the morning. They sell it and pay the amount in the evening and they run their everyday life by the margin they make between the cost and selling price.

It is the compulsion not the wish of people to sell things in the streets as they lack enough money, said Basnet.

Dr. Ganesh Gurung, employment expert, said, "People in the street and footpath business are the hardest hit ones, so they should not be removed.”

There is a need for the government to support these people who are in risk of disease and hunger, added Gurung.

The rich people are able to sustain in this pandemic but the poor people are hit the hardest by this pandemic, he added.

The government should create an environment for the footpath and street businesses to be able to operate as per the set health standards.

The economy of the country will neither boost up nor the COVID-19 transmission will reduce in the community if the labors and daily wage earners are deprived to work, said, Gurung.

The voice of the poor people always fails to reach to the Singh Durbar Office, said Gurung.

The Kathmandu Metropolitan City has pushed forward this issue to the District Administration Office.

Hari Prava Khadgi, the Deputy Mayor of KMC, had pushed forward the issue of removing the businesses in streets by meeting with the Chief District Officer of Kathmandu on Friday.

Deputy Mayor Khadgi said that COVID-19 transmission in KMC would go out of control if street vendors were allowed to operate at this time of pandemic.

The District Administration Office has enlisted street veondor business as in point 10 of the business that can be operated in the Kathmandu till 7:00 am in the morning and from 3:00 to 7:00 pm in the evening.