Cairo to remove street vendors to ease traffic jams


Egypt’s new government launched a campaign across the capital Cairo to relocate street vendors in bid to ease the city’s traffic jams.

However, street vendors on Cairo's sidewalk put aside the legal pressure and move forward to locate their kiosks on the streets.

The increasing number of street vendors in Cairo is causing regular traffic jams and more congestion for both vehicles and pedestrians, pushing the traffic issue up the agenda faced by Egypt’s new president Mohamed Mursi.

In an attempt to regain discipline on the streets of Cairo, the Ministry of Interior sent police officers to negotiate with the street vendors asking them to relocate their stands in less busy areas. But many street vendors refused such a move and remained at their locations, claiming that they have already established their regular customers; and that relocating will affect their businesses.

Ahmed Suleiman, one such street vendor, blames this dispute on the government.

“Provide me with just one meter under the sidewalk, and take a monthly rent from me. Doesn’t this go to the government, sir? Take a monthly rent from me. Count how many sellers stand on this street; I can get you 3000 sellers on this street right now. Count if each of these 3000 seller pays 200 LE (Egyptian pounds) rent per month; doesn’t this go to the government? The government doesn’t have jobs for us, so I'm willing to stay at home, if they can give each of us 600 LE a month. But has this happened before? 600 LE is enough, I have seven kids, and one of them costs me two LE for potato chips every day,” he said.

Vice-President of the Municipality says the street vendors were offered alternative locations, but have refused to co-operate.

“Throughout the whole week, from Monday up until Thursday, we identified certain neighborhoods for street vendors to inhabit; and it is obligatory for them to stick to these neighborhoods and at the same time, when we identified these neighborhoods we considered the importance of the location for the vendor’s interests as well as the interference with traffic. These locations range from seven or eight locations per day and reach 12 locations on Friday,” he said.