In the Lubumbashi city centre, there are many children who spend the day selling small items: bagged water, brooms, biscuits, plastic bagchikwanges , toasted peanuts, etc. As far as we know, these children became street vendors to make money in order to provide for their needs, as well as the needs of their families.
All, or nearly all, of them have abandoned their schooling in order to focus solely on their work, while other children go to school. My friend and I, we are interested in these children, because each day that passes they are less likely to return to school and achieve their dreams for the future. They also risk many dangers, such as injuring themselves or being abused by police officers who chase illegal vendors away from the Lubumbashi town centre and neglet to treat the children carefully.
He tells it next to some other children who are his friends.
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Pitshou lives with his parents and attended school, like us. But one morning, his parents asked him not to go to school because due to a lack of funds, they were no longer able to afford his school fees. Their son was only 11 years old. Today, Pitshou shared with us that he no longer hopes to fulfil his dream of becoming a doctor and living a good life as an adult.
How do we build cities inclusive of street vendors?
Pitshou is not the only one in the town of Lubumbashi, there are numerous child street vendors who spend their days on the street. They are mostly between the ages of 8 and 17, both girls as well as boys. They all have one common denominator: they stop attending school against their own will. Pitshou and his four friends are not losing hope, they wish to some day fulfil their dreams once they have the chance to return to school.
This is also the hope of many children in the same conditions, scattered across the city of Lubumbashi and the Haut Katanga province. Faced with this situation, we are asking parents to fulfil their obligations: educate your children, do not sacrifice their future. Aged 16, she dreams of becoming an accountant in a large corporation.
Melina is the eldest daughter of her family and spends most of her time studying, helping her mother and caring for her younger brothers and sisters. While this allows them to dodge tax payment, this also means they lack legal protection, making them vulnerable. In his first 10 days as Manila mayor, Isko Moreno cleared streets in Divisoria and other areas of illegal vendors. Moreno had assured them that there will be space for vendors in places designated by the city government. And, hopefully, pangalagaan na nila iyon at isaayos na nila iyon We will give our vendors a designated place where they can sell.
And, hopefully, they will take care of it and keep it in order ," Moreno told reporters in a recent news briefing. Moreno said his long-term plan was to build a new shopping area where vendors can set up shop permanently. Before address the issue, the group acknowledged that street vending is illegal.
It contributes P5 trillion to the economy — more than a third of the Philippines' gross domestic product GDP. The participants discussed the importance of the vendors based on their interaction with them in daily life, and the barriers that the sector have to overcome to become legal vendors — poverty, inclusivity, and accessibility. Street vendors are being blamed for disorder and garbage on the streets, and are even suspected of being part of crime syndicates, they said.
But equating the entire sector to crime is misguided; many street vendors are simply trying to make ends meet," said urban planner Ragene Palma, one of the organizers of the forum. There are no public toilets and barely any waste bins in many public areas. While it's true that informal vendors further tighten already tight spaces and cause traffic, are streets only for those who can afford a car?
Are they for those who regularly use the streets, vending, buying, and walking? Is the answer to this problem really to exclude street vendors from our cities? A quick show of hands in the room made it clear that street vendors are integral to people's everyday lives in Metro Manila. Almost everyone buys meals, office supplies, and even clothes from their regular vendor on the streets.
Others agreed and explained how street vending is not only convenient, but also provides character, community, and vibrancy to cities. There a level of ethnicity because people are approachable. Another participant shared about "eyes on the street," a basic urban studies concept where shopkeepers at the street-level contribute to the safety of passersby because of their constant presence and familiarity in a place. Ngayon, makakatakbo na kasi walang haharang. In our stall before, whenever there's a snatcher, one shout from us and he would get caught.
Now, they can easily escape there are no more obstructions. The group talked about the difference between customers of street vendors and those in malls. Street vendors are able to access a totally different market — one that is more inclusive and accepting. She also talked about how this affects where vendors place themselves to sell goods. Nebrija also pointed out how the openness caters to the majority of consumers. For example, in Rockwell, taho vendors and those who sell viands are on the periphery.
The first step is to try.
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Suggestions from the room included providing proper sanitation facilities, formalization of street vending, improved public transportation, and dedicating public spaces for vendors to address continued urbanization. Parallels were also drawn between the Philippines and countries like Thailand and India where change happened when vendors were treated as partners instead of problems.
While India created vending zones or dedicated spaces with proper facilities for their street vendors, Bangkok in Thailand mostly integrated vending into its prime tourism experiences, and allowed it to continuing public spaces given strict regulation on sanitation, among other set standards. What do you think?