ISLAMABAD    -   PRIME Institute, in collaboration with Friedrich Naumann Foundation, National Youth Assembly and Ahmed Bashir & Associates, held its meeting of Quetta Working Group on the “Street Vendor Project”. Purpose of the meeting was to solicit feedback from multiple stakeholders on preparing a draft Legislative Bill for the protection of vending rights of street vendors and articulating the public space usage, according to the press statement issued here. Meeting started with a brief overview of “Street Vendor Project” given by Beenish Javed, Research Associate at PRIME where she highlighted the rationale and objectives of the meeting. In doing so, she also shed light on the economic significance of the vending community, the challenges facing their livelihoods and the need to regulate and protect their vending rights.

Ahmed Bashir, a senior lawyer, presented the draft legislative bill on urban street vendors which focuses on regulating and protecting the rights of vendors. The bill covers aspects related to demarcation of vending zones, licensing, compensation, penalties, formation of a representative body, establishment of vendors’ association, provision of micro-credit, redress mechanism and formulation of a national policy for street vendors. He emphasized that in order to provide legal recognition to street vendors, declaration of clearly demarcated vending zones is a priority.

Abdul Rehman Lodhi , Professors, BIITEMS, stated street vendors are playing a very important role in serving as a distribution channel for taking the goods of cottage and small businesses to the low and middle income groups. Mostly street vendors are from low skilled and rural migrant segments. They are a vital cog in an urban economy, which needs to be taken into account for any city planning.

Street vendor’s right to carry on their trade in public spaces has been the matter of debate in session. Street vendor expressed that they have been restricted due to quality, safety and congestion. Some of the major issues facing vendor include but are not limited to, absence of compensation in response to abrupt confiscation of carts by local authorities, exploitation through harassment, fines, eviction, imprisonment and bribery, lack of sanitation and health facilities near the vending area and absence of a secure space to work from.