The Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC) has announced that beginning in September street vendors will be banned in 33 townships that make up YCDC’s territory.
Currently, street vendors are allowed to setup stalls on the pavement between the hours of 3-9 pm.
YCDC said street vendors and stalls are causing disruptions to passing pedestrians, contributing to traffic jams and irresponsible waste disposals, which in turn deteriorates hygiene in the surrounding area and blocks the sewage system.
“We are planning to arrange a space for vendors to sell in the downtown area. We will clear them from the streets for the convenience of pedestrians,” said a senior official from the YCDC markets division.
The ban has been planned with good intentions; however, it will hurt their livelihoods and income, street vendors said.
“It is not easy to allocate selling spaces to all the street vendors in Yangon. If selling on the streets is completely banned, we will definitely struggle to make ends meet,” a vendor who runs a stall on Anawrahta road, said.
However, downtown residents say there are both advantages and disadvantages to having vendors on the street.
“They sell goods and foods with reasonable prices at convenient places, but they also disturb the passerby. Sometimes walking space is so blocked that only one person can pass through at a time,” a resident of downtown Yangon said.
There has been a plan to open a night market for street vendors near Mahabandoola Park in the past, but this has yet to be realised.
Currently, there are over 70,000 street vendors, with over 300,000 dependent family members, making a living on the streets of Yangon, according to surveys.
The high number of street vendors is partially attributed to the lack of job opportunities available, leaving the poor with few options but to choose convenient roadside selling of goods and foods as employment.
“There are also street vendors in other countries. Neighbouring Thailand is even famous for roadside and night markets, which are popular tourist attractions. But the vendors there are about health and hygiene and don’t irresponsibly dispose of their waste.
“Here YCDC workers face the big task of clearing heaps of waste left by the vendors,” said a city project planner.
Starting in September, vendors caught selling on the streets or pavements will face charges and see their goods confiscated, said an official from YCDC.