Street Vendors Need Viable Options

Street Vendors Need Viable OptionsStreet Vendors Need Viable Options

A short video of a municipal worker slapping a middle-aged woman vendor in Fuman city, Gilan Province, circulating on social media networks on Friday, has attracted intense attention and strong criticism of municipal authorities.

The woman was selling fresh vegetables last week at a street corner when the aggressive municipal worker ordered her to pack up and leave and tried to seize her goods. The incident was captured on cell phones by witnesses.

Many people from all over the country wrote comments, reacting to the video with anger, and urged the authorities to use the full force of the law against the municipal worker, and several news outlets reported.

Her 13-year-old son told reporters that his father was not able to work and the mother is responsible to provide for the family and pay for his school fees. “She has to work so that our family survives,” he said.

In response to the incident, Fouman Municipality ordered the suspension of the worker “until a final decision is taken as to whether the person should be fired.”

But the municipality also warned that vendors are only allowed to conduct their business in markets that have been allocated to them, and not on the streets.  

The woman is just one of the hundreds of street vendors rounded up across the country in recent years. Municipalities in different cities have repeatedly said that they want vendors off the streets, claiming they pose a threat to city hygiene and security.

  Markets Insufficient

While municipalities have provided street vendors with specific markets to sell their goods, the number of markets is few, and simply cannot accommodate the hundreds of vendors who are allotted space at the markets for restricted hours in a week.

Also, as many markets are not located at convenient places, vendors spread out their wares on street pavements, as they know they can find more buyers there.

“The ‘urban discipline’ program with the aim to stop street vending in urban areas is currently being implemented across the country. But it will not be effective so long as it fails to consider alternative options of livelihood for street vendors,” said Abbas Salahi, a member of the Majlis (parliament) Social Commission.

Earlier, lawmaker Zahra Saei, had noted that most of the female street vendors are on the job to earn a living for their families, and “they must be organized, not rounded up.”

Street trade accounts for a significant proportion of the informal non-agricultural employment in Iran. Many people take to street vending because they cannot find a job in the formal economy.

For years jobs have long become few and far between putting millions of young Iranians on the dole queue. The top brass on every possible occasion acknowledges the monumental problems associated with unemployment, but have found no solutions. One senior official in the government recently also warned about a “tsunami of joblessness.”

Given the circumstances, the people in ever increasing numbers and social experts ask one simple question: What should this army of unemployed do to live and survive? So far there is no one in the higher echelons of power to answer this question.

Most street vendors are the main providers and sources of income for their families.aption: As many markets are not located at convenient places, vendors spread out their wares on street pavements, as they know they can find more buyers there.


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