Thursday February 02, 2023

Legislation to help protect rights of street vendors

November 30, 2020

Islamabad : The first-ever legislative bill for street vendors would serve as an impetus to safeguard their rights, recognize their contributions towards society, and provide them incentives and a mechanism for redressal of their grievances.

The draft of the bill was being prepared with the efforts of Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE), Centre of Street Economy (CSE) and Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Division. Street vendors have remained an integral part of the urban economy around the world as they provide a range of goods and services to middle- and low-income mass segments of the society.

However, in Pakistan, the potential of street vending has not been harnessed and despite the existence of the policy developed in 1986 for Islamabad Capital Territory and subsequent convening of special the committee in 2015 and 2017 for the Municipal Corporation of Islamabad, significant work has not been done in this regard.

Talking to this agency, Executive Director, CSE, Zia Bandey said the work on street vendor legislation has been started in the year 2019 in coordination with PIDE but suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The draft of the bill has been prepared and a webinar on this topic has been conducted this month. Initially, the legislation was meant for the street vendors of Islamabad Capital Territory, which could be replicated by the provincial governments in the future.

The law would basically explain the discretionary powers of different authorities and introduce the novel concept of town vending committees with having 50 percent representation of vendors which will be led by municipal authorities.

According to a rough estimate, the capital has around 30,000 street vendors who will be identified by the Town Vending Committees through a survey, registered and issued vending certificates designating an area for them.

According to the draft of the proposed street vending legislation, Town Vending Committees will be formed by the Metropolitan Corporation for different zones comprising over representatives of street vendors associations, traders associations, non-governmental organizations, and community-based organizations operating in the area, persons nominated by the local government, Capital Development Authority and the Office of Inspector General Police.

The Town Vending Committee shall conduct the first survey of street vendors in the area falling in its jurisdiction within a period of one year from the date of commencement of this Act and thereafter a survey of street vendors shall be conducted once in every five years.

These Town Vending Committees would conduct the first survey of street vendors in their designated areas to identify all the vendors.

The identified vendors will be issued Street Vending Certificates by the local government on the recommendation of these committees.

Every holder of a Street Vending Certificate will pay vending fees to the local government not more than 500 per month, the draft stated.

The draft of the law clearly states that any person who confiscates or seizes or forfeits the goods, merchandise, wares, vehicles, carriers, carts, weights and measures, personal belongings and any other thing in possession of a street vendor shall be punished for a term of one month or with a fine not exceeding Rs20,000. The local government with active assistance of the Town Vending Committee shall take measures for the provision of micro-credit and micro-insurance facilities to the street vendors which may be introduced by the federal government or any public or private financial institution or insurance company or corporation.

These committees will also make arrangements for effectively informing the street vendors about their rights and obligations through the publication of materials in different languages. As per the draft of the bill, the Chairman of Town Vending Committee will form a Dispute Resolution and Grievances Redressal Committee comprising of three persons who will be chosen among the members of Vending Committee while at least one member of this committee shall be the representative of street vendors. The arrangements for providing legal aid to the street vendors will be made by the committees and the records of street vendors along with their details will be maintained.