Monday, April 26, 2010

smashing the stalls

Hundreds of vendors in the central Sri Lankan city of Kandy lost their stalls and livelihoods after an eviction enforced by the army. The Daily Mirror has a brief account of what was called an effort "to clean up the Kandy city."

Friday, April 23, 2010

someone in Nairobi gets it

A great blog post courtesy of Ratio Magazine, shows how informal businesses lose out to supposed innovations in city planning.

Money quotes:
1. In this city, in my neighbourhood, a man associated with one of Kenya’s largest scams, is free to run for MP whilst small kiosks are being torn down in the name of ‘beautification’ and ‘security’.

2. in a fantastic example of customer service matched by few formal businesses in this town, one of the local newspaper men [displaced by the government demolition drive] not only delivers the papers to my house, but has also granted me account facilities for both newspapers and airtime, and all I have to do is text him for a top up.

3. we can probably save a lot of cash spent on programmes, workshops and related four-wheel drives for ‘small enterprise promotion’ and actually let small enterprises grow if the city infrastructure were made more functional.

the right to do business on the pavement

The progressive city government in Calcutta is now initiating a program to legalize street hawkers. The Telegraph newspaper has the details. In a further analysis, the paper quotes a municipal official on the pragmatic reasons for working with street sellers: "The ground realities in the city are such that hawkers can neither be easily evicted nor restricted to specific zones. Try forcing a vendor doing roaring business on a Gariahat pavement for years to shift to another location and you will know what I mean.”

Though the Telegraph harumphs that "you, the pedestrian, will ultimately forfeit the right to your pavement," the reality is that there are 325,000 street hawkers in the city. If they weren't important and desirable, people wouldn't be buying from them and building and store-owners wouldn't allow them to operate right outside their doors.

The government promises to keep some areas of town free from street sellers, while limiting hawking in other areas and allowing it full-force in other sections of town. This is a sensible, pragmatic proposal.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Bahrain goes after street vendors

In the first three months of this year 460 street traders have been prosecuted in Manama, the capital of Bahrain, the Gulf Daily News reports. The government also arrested 204 undocumented foreign workers -- the newspaper calls them 'runaway expatriate labourers' -- in the same time period.

Given that the capital, according to Wikipedia, has an estimated population of 155,000, almost half of one percent of the city's population has been caught up in these prosecutions.

900 years of market culture

Bananas on the Breadboard is a new documentary that chronicles the 900-year history of Dublin's vibrant street markets. The Irish Times previews the film.

Monday, April 5, 2010

1,000 pounds

That's how much the Liverpool City Council wants to charge for permits to sell food at night in the center of town. It's a 300 percent increase over the current license fee. The Liverpool Echo has the details.