Street vendors should be treated with dignity and respect, says Nagaland activist
Kohima, July 19 (EMN): The society should treat the street vendors with dignity and respect, and the state government look into their welfare by providing basic facilities, said the president of Nagaland Voluntary Consumer Organisation (NVCO) and advocate, Kezhokhoto Savi.
Dwelling on the rights of street vendors in the country in general and the state of Nagaland in particular, Savi expressed his gratitude to the Parliament of India for passing the Street Vendors Act meant to safeguards the rights to the marginalised.
‘In the scenario of Nagaland, for many years, the state government did not realise the importance of the Street Vendors Act,’ the activist told Eastern Mirror, adding that NVCO is a voluntary body started to highlight the Act by creating awareness through sensitisation programmes, local newspapers, radio and other forms of media.
He shared that Nagaland is an agricultural state but most of the essential commodities are brought in from outside the state, except some agricultural products. He added that it’s the street vendors who bring local produce straight from the fields to sell in the towns and run their families.
Stressing on the vitality of the vendors in the society and the Street Vendors Act, Savi said Nagaland government has also realised that it has to implement it as it had passed the Street Vendors, Rules and Regulations 2019.
He, however, pointed out that for implementation, as per the Act, the government must constitute a civic committee which would involve people from the municipal council, officials from the concerned department and even some leaders from civil societies.
‘This is how a committee would be constituted by the government as per the Act., and what is the committee going to do here is to first find out and see a proper place for the vending zone, a place where the street vendors can go and sell their product. When this (vending zone) is located and agreed to be used as a vending area, the government has to provide facilities like cleanliness, public hygiene, proper drinking water, security, etc.,’ he said.
‘I see some of our own Naga mothers and sisters; they come with products and they are hardly managing by the side of the road, either the main road or the colony road. Is this how the government solve the problems of street vendors? No, this is not the way,’ said the advocate, adding that the society should treat them with dignity.
“They are human; they are to be treated properly. So this is why we observe the International Street Vendors Day (annually on November 14),” he continued.
Recalling an incident he experienced last year, he said the NVCO found out during an interaction with some of the street vendors during ‘Wednesday market’ in Kohima that most of the street vendors were mostly women from Jalukie in Peren district, Tseminyu in Kohima district and other places, bringing organic produce despite being only a one-day affair, thereby being compelled to sell whatever they bring.
“When we interacted with them, they were not satisfied, because the Chandmari Wednesday market is just on the street. So, sometimes it creates inconvenience to the public, even vehicles could not move, and so many inconveniences have been created, whereas they also don’t find it comfortable and there was no public toilet; there was nothing, no facilities at all. They just came and occupied any corner of the street. So it is their right- they were not treated properly,” said Savi.
He stated that the vendors were compelled to sell their products at higher rates due to the pandemic as well as increase in vehicle fare due to the hike in fuel prices. They also came from far-off places by hiring pickup trucks and had to keep the vehicle the whole day, he said, adding that vendors felt sorry for selling their items at a higher price.
They have potential to contribute more
Once the Act is introduced, the government may select a proper competent body, ‘most probably in state capital, probably Kohima Municipal Council’, and this council has to take care of issuance of licenses to street vendors.
‘And once the street vendors put the license, and then automatically they are entitled to all those facilities laid down by the Act,’ Savi said.
Further, he said that they have to pay a certain amount for the license, ‘but it should not be very expensive; it should be nominal; it should be reasonable and not lifetime’.
‘The license has to have validity and the license holders are to renew it; and if the license holder dies, then someone in the family can also continue. Preference for the street vendor’s license should be given to the local people,’ he said.
“And once we introduce very strictly, then we can stop others who are just selling on the road at the same time; they cannot just go and sell anywhere but the government can also control and regulate that except on a vending zone with license, other street vendors may not be allowed,” Savi opined.
He said that there were Naga mothers and sisters (street vendors) who work very hard to keep the food on the table and take of their children’s education.
“They are contributing so much and they are in a position to contribute more. This is how we can also build a state economy- promoting our own local street vendors. And with that, we can also encourage our own Naga local people to produce more local products and we can capture market in our own town, and that is certainly going to be good for all of us, where we can assure the local products all organic,” he said.
He went on to say that promoting street vendors is like introducing organic food, which is good for health. He further encouraged growing and promoting local produce through a proper vending zone.
(Second and final report on street vendors published in Monday’s issue)