CAIRO: Street vendors across greater Cairo have demanded the government create new, more suitable market spaces for them to sell their goods and earn their livelihoods.
Vendors have been under fire from governorate and state authorities for obstructing roads, causing traffic, and unlicensed selling, but vendors’ efforts to alleviate this crisis through their syndicate have been repeated ignored by state. One vendor in downtown Cairo told The Cairo Post Sunday that street vendors face numerous difficulties yet the government continues to ignore vendors’ initiatives to solve this problem through opening alternative spaces.
Head of the Street Vendors Syndicate Ahmed Hussein said in a statement to Youm7 on Monday that he invited the heads of districts in Cairo to a press conference organized by venders downtown to discuss the rights of sellers and provide them appropriate and organized spaces on main thoroughfares with easy access to customers.
Hussein said that metropolitan vendors, much like customers and drivers, do not want the state of chaos in downtown Cairo and are hoping for better spaces for them to work and sell that do not obstruct movement through and traffic in the city.
However, the heads of Cairo districts have ignored their invitation, Hussein said, and vendors felt slighted that they were being asked to resolve the crisis but were dismissed when they presented alternatives.
Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab organized a meeting last week to discuss the issue surrounding street vendors. The meeting was attended by the minister of local development and management, governors of Cairo and Giza, and representatives of the concerned authorities. At the meeting, Mahlab said that the government is very serious about finding alternative spaces for vendors to work because it concerns the “prestige of the state” and would “restore traffic flow,” reported Al-Masry Al-Youm.
Spokesman of the Vendors Syndicate Tarek Fouad said Sunday that vendors in Mouski and Attaba districts are even willing to pay to help the government to find alternative markets or pay monthly fees to the state to if it allocates them vending areas, he said during an interview on CBC channel.
Some vendors face more severe security cleanups, however, such as in Tanta governorate on Sunday, where security forcibly removed 21 vegetables and fruits vendors and 23 concrete roadblocks in public streets, reported El-Watan news.
Despite this, there are models for alternative spaces for vendors that open up possibilities. Qalyubia Governor Mohamed Abdel Zaher, for example, plans to open a specialized and organized market specifically for street vendors, he said in a meeting with Ain Shams University roads expert Osama Aql. The project would accommodate 300 shops for vendors, a parking lot, and microbuses to provide transport to and from other governorates in Lower Egypt.