KOCHI: While street vendors have welcomed Kochi corporation’s plan to allocate special zones and provide licences, Kerala Merchants Chamber of Commerce and Kerala Hotels and Restaurants Association have come out against the decision
Kochi Corporation’s proposed plan to allocate special vending zones for street vendors is touted to be a ‘transformative’ move. Although the decision to provide licences to street vendors has invited criticism from business communities, officials feel that the vending zone plan will transform Kochi’s streets like never before. According to the proposal announced in the budget, exclusive vending zones will come up in designated areas across Kochi.
“The aim is to rehabilitate every street vendor by assigning exclusive vending zones. But we haven’t decided on the locations yet. The corporation will issue identity cards to street vendors and allocate bunks or spaces accordingly without creating any hindrance to pedestrians. As per the Kerala High Court’s directive on the issue, we will have to publish a notification on the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014 in Kochi corporation limits. The Town Vending Committee will assign vending and no-vending zones later,” said Kochi Mayor M Anilkumar.
Earlier, organisations like Kerala Merchants Chamber of Commerce (KMCC) and Kerala Hotels and Restaurants Association (KHRA) had come out against the move to issue licences to street vendors. “The corporation budget announced the allocation of a temporary licence to the street vendors by levying a fee. Street vendors are robbing businesses of registered merchants who function with various licences obtained from the state government, remitting taxes including GST.
The Covid-induced lockdown has disrupted our business. This decision will be a double whammy,” said G Karthikeyan, president, KMCC. Echoing the same, T J Manoharan, district secretary, KHRA, said, “Several street vendors pay no heed to Covid protocol. Instead of issuing temporary licences, the corporation should implement the Street Vendors Act without further delay.” Activists have also raised their apprehensions about the move. “There needs to be a clear idea about vending zones in the city. If the officials are letting hawkers occupy streets, Queen’s Walkway and Abraham Madamakkal Road will face a similar situation like that of Marine Drive,” said Ranjith G Thampy, an activist.
The mayor has clarified that they will not allow vending zones on busy city stretches. “Vendors will not be allowed at Broadway which is already struggling for space. Also, we will not let hawkers display their wares on the newly-developed Abraham Madamakkal Road.,” he said.
move long overdue:
Vendors Various street vending organisations have welcomed the move.
“The implementation of the Street Vendors Act was long overdue. Although we have been demanding the same for long, no concrete decision was made. As per the Town Vending Committee’s last survey report, there are 1,989 legal street vendors in Kochi. Owing to the Kerala High Court’s intervention, 611 street eatery workers were also added to the list. We are hopeful that a new list will be prepared before allocating designated zones for the vendors,” said K A Usman, secretary, Ernakulam District Street Vending Workers Union