CAIRO: The government successfully cleared many streets from vendors, but it needs to understand that such an issue needs to be treated slowly, Street Vendors’ Independent Syndicate head Ahmed Hussein told The Cairo Post Tuesday.
His remarks followed angry reactions to penalties imposed on three vendors who were arrested after they tried to return to selling their wares in downtown areas, after they were kicked out in August.
“The police filed reports against our colleagues accusing them of ‘thuggery’ and assault on security forces. Now each one of them has to pay a fine of 5,000 EGP ($700) which we oppose,” a street vendor named Hamada Saber told Al-Ahram Tuesday.
Hussein also believes police authorities are not dealing properly with street vendors, and claimed they “exaggerated punishment for little offences.”
Saber said they were planning to escalate the issue by addressing the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR), but both the council and Hussein denied it Tuesday.
Hussein said that the government had promised the relocation was a temporary four-month plan until a new mall for street vendors is to be completed. “I saw for myself that the work has begun,” Hussein told The Cairo Post Tuesday, and said he hoped vendors would have patience.
Saber said he blamed the vendors who got arrested for their “inability to keep their business running in the Torgoman garage.” Hussein, however, said minor vendor groups have been trying to influence others to convince them to return to the streets.
“They were among the richest vendors and want back the streets where they were in control,” Hussein told The Cairo Post.
On the morning of Aug.24, the Ministry of Interior started procedures to move street vendors into the Torgoman garage, near downtown, to put end to traffic jams and “street chaos” caused by the vendors.
Since they were moved into the garage, away from pedestrian flow, approximately 1,700 have had difficulty adjusting to the new location, and have struggled to find customers, refusing their transfer to the garage, Hussein told The Cairo Post mid-September.
For its part, the Cairo Governorate has coordinated with security forces to keep street vendors from returning to the streets of downtown Cairo, mainly in July 26th St. in the district of Essa’af, where armored vehicles have replaced peddlers’ goods.
In the past month, police arrested several street vendors in Qasr el-Nile, Azbakeya and Boulaq then released them on bail varying between 1,000 and 5,000 EGP, Al-Ahram reported Tuesday.
Additional reporting by Nourhan Magdi.