Partial Solution To The Crisis Of Street Vendors at Masr Station In Alexandria
The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights welcomes the cooperation of the Alexandria governorate in finding a solution to the crisis of street vendors that will preserve the sellers’ sole livelihood by building kiosks in the environs of Masr Station, instead of arbitrarily moving them to another location, as was the case in Cairo, without consideration for compromise solutions that balance the vendors’ constitutional right to work and the government’s regulatory duties. Seeking the success of the experiment, EIPR urges the governorate to fulfill all its pledges; reducing the number of kiosks to be built, agreed upon with the vendors, could thwart the project entirely.
Street vendors around Alexandria’s Masr Station reached an agreement with the governorate to build 403 kiosks near the station, provided the vendors bear the construction costs of the structures, which should be completed by the end of this month.
EIPR calls on the governorate to complete the process. The authorities have already approved the construction of 320 kiosks, but asked that the remaining 83 be moved to another location, far from the downtown area where there is little commercial traffic which is necessary to guarantees the vendors adequate revenues. EIPR fears the harm the 83 vendors excluded from the station may incur, since most of them have already obtained bank loans to cover the cost of construction, pursuant to the agreement with the governorate. Under the current agreement, the vendors will occupy the kiosks for four years in exchange for construction costs; after that, contracts will be renewed for LE130 per kiosk per month, in addition to the cost of utilities and services.
The preliminary agreement was a major success for the Association of Street Vendors in the Cairo Station Area, which was established in 2013 with the aid of EIPR. EIPR believes that the vendors exercising their constitutional right to association to form a trade union allowed them to get their voices to officials and bargain to find a consensual solution to their problem.
The association was involved in various negotiating stages with the Alexandria governorate and its successive governors, finally reaching an agreement with the governorate in 2013 for the construction of 403 kiosks—the number of members of the association. But when the final agreement was issued early this month, the governorate asked to move 83 kiosks to the Batatin area in the Hadra neighborhood. Hassan el-Fallah, the secretary of the association, said that they are having problems because of the reduction in the number of kiosks to be built. The owners of the kiosks to be moved to the Hadra area will incur real harm given the lack of commercial traffic in the area.
EIPR asks the governorate to swiftly find a satisfactory solution to the 83 remaining kiosks, to maintain the success of the constructive cooperation between the association and the governorate in formalizing the legal status of vendors without infringing on their right to work. It is hoped that this project could be a model for the resolution of the crisis of street vendors around the country. The crisis must be resolved through consensual plans that meet the needs of each area without resorting to forcibly reallocating vendors into areas without sufficient commercial traffic, as was the case in Cairo.
EIPR stresses the government’s role in upholding citizens’ constitutional rights, including the right to work and the right to a dignified living. It urges the government to adopt a decision-making policy based on consultation with stakeholders in social justice issues and to build on the Alexandria experiment. That case demonstrates that it is possible to devise solutions that meet the needs of stakeholders and honor the rights of the government as well.