Relocated Street Vendors Complain of Insufficient Space

By Tin Htet Paing 1 December 2016

RANGOON —Rangoon’s municipal committee is facing hurdles in managing the relocation of downtown street vendors to newly designated areas after several individuals complained they were not provided sufficient space to sell their goods.

According to the committee, officially known as Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC), registered street vendors number over 6,000 across the city’s four townships in the downtown grid—Lanmadaw, Latha, Pabedan and Kyauktada—with more than 1,000 such individuals operating stalls in each township.

The relocation of street vendors was carried out to regulate unmanageable traffic congestion on eleven major downtown streets: Anawrahta, Bogyoke, Mahabandoola, Pansodan, Merchant, Shwedagon Pagoda, Sule Pagoda, Latha, Lanmadaw, Phone Gyi and Strand roads. Selling goods along these 11 major roads has been prohibited from Dec. 1 onward.

The committee has relocated 1,600 street vendors to the newly designated Strand Road night market and ordered thousands more street vendors to occupy only downtown streets outside of the targeted 11 major roads.

U Aung Aung, who sells fruit on the corner of Mahabandoola Road and 16th Street, said that local residents have told him he is not permitted to occupy the areas in front of their homes, but he was not provided any place within the new night market.

He also added that he possesses no YCDC-issued registration card and estimated that as many as 300 other street vendors in the area are facing similar difficulties.

“It’s not fair that no street vendor is allowed to occupy these [major] roads while there is no [other] proper place provided for us yet,” U Aung Aung said.

They are not demanding that the YCDC provide places for them immediately, he explained, but said the authorities should allow them to continue selling in their regular locations within a designated time frame until they are provided a new area in which to operate.

U Nyi Nyi Oo, deputy head of the YCDC’s administrative department, told The Irrawaddy that the committee is assessing the situation of newly designated night market spots and would consider allocating spaces to more street vendors who have not yet been provided new locations in which to operate their businesses.

“We would reclaim permitted spots from vendors who occupy places [at the night market] but who are not selling goods ‘regularly,’ so that we could relocate more vendors in their spots,” he said.

U Nyi Nyi Oo encouraged street vendors who don’t want to move to the night market to negotiate with residents in the downtown grid to permit them to sell goods on the streets.

“We can’t grant that all street vendors will be provided places at the night market,” he added, saying that the municipal body is trying to implement similar markets in other townships if the first project succeeds.

YCDC officials were seen inspecting major downtown roads on Thursday in order to warn street vendors not to occupy the major streets. Observers noted that the roads were visibly less crowded than in previous weeks.