Adopting human-centric approach to address issue of street vending

Published On: February 12, 2024 07:40 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

Street vendors within the Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) have been taking to the streets for months after the KMC banned them from vending on the roadsides. As the KMC does not seem to have provided viable alternatives for them, there is growing frustration among these people who make a living by selling goods on the roadsides of major thoroughfares within the federal capital. The National Self-Employed Traders Association, Nepal Street Trade Union, and individual street vendors united in a demonstration outside the KMC's office to voice their grievances on Sunday. They have expressed dissatisfaction with the KMC's approach, accusing Mayor Balen Sah of undermining the negotiation process. The metropolis appeared to engage in talks with the vendors but resorted to unilateral actions, such as seizing their goods during the night. This not only disrupted the negotiation process but also left the vendors without their means of livelihood. We urge the KMC to engage in negotiations with the street vendors to find a viable solution so that KMC's decision does not threaten their livelihoods.

The KMC has to understand that resorting to force alone to evict street vendors does not yield positive results. The metropolis leadership should stand ready to address the legitimate concerns of the street vendors. These individuals, often struggling to make ends meet, have the right to conduct their businesses and contribute to the local economy. The metropolis must recognize their role and work towards finding a sustainable solution through open and fair negotiations. As a newspaper, we do not support haphazard street vending. But what we must not forget is that street vending is common in all major cities across the country and even in developed economies. In a country like ours, a large number of people find employment opportunities through street vending and make their livelihoods in the city. The agitating street vendors have rightly argued that the KMC's actions have exacerbated the broader issue of unemployment. The prudent path for the KMC to address the issue of street vendors could be to ensure proper management of street businesses. The KMC should work together with the relevant agencies of the federal and provincial governments to provide suitable alternative spaces for vendors to conduct their businesses, rather than forcing them out without viable alternatives.

The demand of the agitating protestors that they be dealt with in a fair and inclusive approach, while also recognizing their economic contribution, cannot be taken otherwise. It is imperative for the local authorities to engage in transparent negotiations, address their grievances, and work towards a solution that ensures the livelihoods of these individuals while maintaining the order and aesthetics of the city. Their protests serve as a reminder that effective urban management requires collaboration between three different tiers of the governments and other concerned stakeholders.  We believe it is crucial for the KMC to listen to the voices of the street vendors, consider their demands positively, and find a balanced solution that benefits both the vendors and the overall well-being of the city.

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