Transformation of Street Vending in Islamabad & Lessons for Urban Pakistan
Economists and politicians have always been interested in urban development. Urban development means a way forward for economic development. Everyone has an equal chance to work in the economic world. One of the options that metropolitan areas provide to locals is street vending, sometimes known as the street economy.
Recently Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) and Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) jointly organized a conference on the ongoing street vendors’ initiative in Islamabad under the ambit of the Ehsaas Rehribaan program. The Conference highlighted the significance of street vending, its condition inside Pakistan, and the solution over which the initiative has been started by the Ehsaas Program under ‘Ehsaas Rehribaan program’ with the collaboration of PIDE, MCI, and some private entities. The below-listed speaker shed light on the initiative of the Ehsaas Rehribaan program.
- Sania Nishtar, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation
- Zia Banday, Focal person of the Ehsaas Rehribaan program
- Nadeem-ul-Haque, Vice-Chancellor, PIDE
- Hamza Shafqat, Deputy Commissioner, Islamabad
Following are the Salient points of the pre-eminent speaker for the street vendors transformation under the initiative of the Ehsaas Rehribaan program.
Salient points from Conference
- Cities are the bedrocks of development. Street vending is a way of life in developed cities across the globe. However, Pakistan’s cities remain unproductive. Because the country’s current system does not permit vendors to work in the cities. Cities that prohibit street vending will never develop. Street vending is even encouraged in Berlin, Dubai, New York, and London. Street vending has always been discouraged due to extortion, failure to pay rent to shopkeepers, and bad behavior by public and government officials such as public administrations and police. As a result of these impediments, the productive activities of street vending are reduced, leading to an increase in its closure.
- Low entry barriers, limited start-up costs, and flexible hours are just a few of the factors driving a large influx of street vendors to this occupation. According to PIDE’s estimates, street vending can generate nearly 20 million jobs in Pakistan’s economy. According to the most recent Labor Force Survey, every new graduate has a one-third chance of finding work in the informal sector. It is also estimated that annual revenue from street vending exceeds Rs36-43 billion, with job creation ranging from 20K to 40K.
- Presenting the PIDE proposal to the government regarding such an important sector of the economy. The government began to take steps to remove impediments to such independent street vending while encouraging it through her support.
- In 2019, as part of a government-led campaign, many street vendors from across the country were gathered and interviewed to learn about the issues they face. When the problems were fully heard, then the government’s started the initiative of the Ehsaas Rehribaan program.
- Various consultations and concept papers were presented to the Ehsaas Ministry, and the process was kicked off collaboratively by the signing of an MoU among five entities: PIDE, CDA, the Local Municipality of Islamabad, the ICT administration, and the Ehsaas Ministry. Under the Ehsaas Ministry, this program was dubbed the “Ehsaas Rehribaan Program”.
- Special one-day training on food safety and other precautions for small-scale businesses was delivered to certain vendors from one sector of Islamabad. The government provided some street vendors with newly constructed protected booths, and thus the process began, and soon all of Islamabad’s markets will be properly flourished from the structured ways of street vendors’ stalls.
- The whole initiative was being programmed into four major steps:
- The second and third steps of the Ehsaas Rehribaan Project were the most difficult to implement. It was made known to the street vendors and market association so that they could learn about the program and put their trust in it. At this level, however, government-only financing was not possible. Microfinance banks, as well as several charitable homes and chambers, were contacted for this. However, just two microfinance banks (U-Bank microfinance and Apna Bank) accepted and began funding the program.
- Licensing has been issued to almost 140 street vendors while the rest are in process. This was just a minor step by the Government Ehsaas Program and PIDE research initiative for vendors and the street economy. The program will be further launched at the national level by doing the same encouraging research and project across the country.