YCDC Prepares to Tame Rangoon’s Street Vendors

By Tin Htet Paing 4 October 2016

RANGOON — Rangoon’s municipal authority is registering individual street vendors in an effort to manage the spread of street stalls downtown and ease pedestrian movement through the commercial capital’s increasingly congested streets.

Since late September, the Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC) has been collecting data on vendors in the city’s four most congested townships, located in the downtown grid—Lanmadaw, Latha, Pabedan and Kyauktada.

The YCDC claims that streets vendors in those townships have been contributing to unmanageable foot-traffic during peak hours.

Street vendors were photographed individually, and the YCDC recorded their names, fingerprints, the locations of their stalls and the goods they were selling.

According to the data collected by YCDC officers, street vendors number at least 5,000 across the four townships, with more than 1,000 in each township.

However, these numbers don’t reflect the true population of vendors, since some are prone to change their locations, U Kyaw Aye, YCDC executive officer for Lanmadaw Township, told The Irrawaddy.

Daw Than Myint Aung, a member of the YCDC’s executive board, told The Irrawaddy on Monday that the registration process would enable a more “systematic” arrangement of street vendors in Rangoon, who would operate at “designated locations during fixed hours.”

Further details have yet to be disclosed, since the project is still at an early stage, she explained.

Street vendors who spoke to The Irrawaddy said that YCDC officials told them during the registration process that they would be relocated to somewhere on Strand Road.

Ma Mya Mya Thway, who sells mohinga—the traditional Burmese fish-based noodle soup—at the corner of 35th Street and Mahabandula Road, told The Irrawaddy that she doesn’t want to move, because she has been selling at that location for seven years.

“If we were relocated, we would have to attract new customers at the new place,” she explained. She expressed greater openness to the idea of fixed hours.

The Yangon Heritage Trust’s recently published conservation and development strategy recommends that guidelines and regulations be designed in partnership with vendors, ensuring “safety and pedestrian priority while still allowing vendors to function.”

“They [the vendors] should not impede pedestrian flow or access across a footpath from buildings to car parking,” it said.

The Yangon Heritage Trust also recommends that vendors be “relicensed,” and that umbrellas attached to stalls [providing vendors with shelter form the sun and rain] should be positioned with “a minimum clearance of 7 feet to allow free passage of pedestrians.”