KATHMANDU, July 7: It has been almost 15 years since Karnadhoj Kafle, a street vendor, has been selling goods on the street of the capital city, Kathmandu.
Each day, he gets up early in the morning and leaves his home for Balkhu chowk to run his tea stall. He makes tea along the roadside for the whole day.
“I know streets are wrong place to run such business. But I have no option than to continue my business on the street as I cannot afford to pay expensive rent,” fifty-nine-year-old Kafle told Republica. “That's why I am doing the same work since 2003.”
He said that the money earned from the tea stall is the only source of income with which he supports his 11-member family.
But sometimes, his business faces serious disturbances. As the city police of Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) office chase the street vendors like him for operating business along the streets and obstructing pedestrians' movement, they run for a while and return back after a short time at the same place to sell their goods.
“There are almost 20 street vendors here at Balkhu chowk. We get chased away by the city police routinely. They do not understand that operating business on streets is our obligation. Had not we been poor, we would have definitely rented a good store,” he shared his story, adding that they have been forced to pay heavy penalties for operating business illegally.
Kafle informed that there are almost 300,000 street vendors in the capital city. He said that all the street vendors want the government to fix certain time period for operating such businesses along the streets keeping in view of their poor financial status.
However, about two years back, the government had identified some areas to relocate the street vendors from the city's crowded areas such as Sundhara, Sahidgate, New Road, Ratnapark, Indrachowk, among other places. But they refused to follow the government's decision citing that the government-proposed areas had no business prospect.
Yadav Prasad Koirala, spokesperson at the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA), said that the government had planned to relocate them to three locations like Bhrikutumandap, the northern area of Narayanhiti Palace and the few river corridors inside the Kathmandu Valley.
“They don't what to move from their current sites. They only want to stay at Rantapatk, Sundhara, and New Road. They don't want to listen to our suggestions,” Koirala added.
He informed that a committee formed by the MoHA had set the time duration for vending their goods from 6 pm to 8 pm in the evening. Koirala also informed that the committee was dismissed after street vendors refused to follow its decision.
Since then, street vendors' management is in disarray. Now, the KMC is the main responsible body for managing the street vendors as the committee is already dissolved now, according to Koirala.
Meanwhile, KMC officials informed that they haven't mobilized their officials for managing the streets and they don't have any sustainable plans for solving the issue except for chasing them away from the streets.
“We don't have enough manpower to regulate the street vendors. The problem cannot be solved that easily,” Dhanapati Sapkota, KMC's implementation division chief, said.
He said that the numbers of city police is not enough for deploying them as per the demand. According to him, there are 175 personnel who have been working as a city police and most of them are deployed as security guards and some of them are given managerial works.