Street Vendor Holdouts, YCDC on Crash Course Over Relocation Plan

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Tensions are mounting between Yangon City Development Committee and the commercial capital’s street vendors, as a small contingent refuses to move stalls from their locations on Anawrahta Road.

Following a recently announced ban on street stalls on Yangon’s 11 busiest roads, YCDC staff have been travelling around the downtown area with loudspeakers, informing vendors that they must relocate their stalls to the city’s side streets or to a newly designated night bazaar on Strand Road.

But a group of vendors on Anawrahta Road between 38th and Seik Kan Thar streets are refusing to move, thumbing their nose at the YCDC directive.

“We want fairness. They have told us not to sell on the main road and that they will seize our goods. But if we are not allowed to sell here, where will we operate?” asked Anawrahta Road fruit vendor Ma Malar.

“It is not convenient for us to sell goods inside the side streets. People who live on these streets don’t allow us to do so. YCDC should consider our livelihoods. We have said this, and informed municipal staff of our concerns,” she added.

According to a recently conducted survey by YCDC, there are more than 6000 street vendors in Yangon’s downtown area. While some have been relocated to newly created outdoor market areas, a lack of stall space at these locations has meant that more than 4000 have been left to set up shop in the city’s less trafficked side streets.

“I want the municipality to consider their actions from our perspective,” said another Anawrahta Road vendor, U Myat Htay. “Where can we sell if not here? Who will provide for our children if we are not allowed to sell our wares?”

A temporary truce has been negotiated between YCDC and the unflinching street hawkers, with the latter allowed to sell on the pavement between 38th and Seik Kan Thar streets – rather than in the designated car parking spaces where they had previously set up shop – for the time being.

However, YCDC officials say the arrangement will not last.

“We have made gradual announcements to the vendors so that their relocation is orderly. We have educated them and we have not yet confiscated their goods … After the notice period is over, we will take action,” said assistant administrator U Pyae Phyo Zaw.

“At present, we have allowed these vendors to sell on the pavement as a temporary solution. Thirty-Eighth Street and Seik Kan Thar Street are not on the list of ‘no street vendor’ streets. Why can’t they sell on these two streets? Many vendors still resist moving but they will need to cooperate with us. If not, we will take action against them according to the law,” said YCDC official U Ni Nyi Oo.

The 11-street ban covering the densely populated downtown grid includes five main east-west roads: Bogyoke Aung San, Anawrahta, Mahabandoola, Merchant and Strand, as well as six main north-south roads: Pansodan, Sule Pagoda, Shwedagon Pagoda, Latha, Lanmadaw and Phone Gyi.

The Strand Road night bazaar, with space for 1600 vendors, opened on November 23, but those not lucky enough to secure a spot quickly complained that the new market arrangements were arbitrary or possibly even marked by favouritism.

Street vendors from the downtown townships of Lanmadaw, Latha, Pabedan and Kyauktada plan to hold a protest against the YCDC measures tomorrow, from 11:00am to 2:00pm.

 

Source: Myanmar Times
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