Jul 16, 2008, 9:09 AM
The Kanifing Municipal Council (KMC) authorities on Tuesday began a crackdown on street vendors along major streets within the municipality.
The move according to the municipal authorities is meant to keep the public areas clean, and pavement and public walk ways free from obstruction.
The Mayor of KMC admitted that streets in the municipality are dirty, especially the major streets and highways.
The street vendors contribute greatly to the problem, according to the municipal authorities.
We agree that the local authorities in all parts of the country have a responsibility, and must do their job and be seen to be doing their job well.
The problem though i that it is not only the street sellers who create refuse in the streets.
Something must be done to address the issue of travellers in public transport who through plastic sachets, empty cans, paper and all sorts of things from moving vehicles on the streets, which were just well cleraned overnight by KMC workers
The huge army of KMC police must be deployed to patrol and watch out for those who litter the streets, and take immediate action.
They include the many shop owners along the Kombo Sillah and Mamadi Maniang highways, Sayerr Jobe Avenue, Kairaba Avenue, Jimpex Road and diverse other places, who do not maintain waste bins and just throw waste in the street, next to their shop.
Just visit the area of the shops and photo labs around Westfield Junction next to KMC, for example, and you will see what we are saying.
The point is, the relevant authorities must enforce the requirement for all shops to have waste disposal bins at their premises, so as to facilitate proper waste management.
The council could collaborate with private refuse collecting companies, and the Gamjobs refuse collection scheme to keep the streets clean, ensure that waste bins are available in shops and households, and that waste is collected regularly.
Now concerning the issue of evicting the street vendors – we must not forget that they are being deprived of a source of employment, income and survival for them and their families.
So the KMC authorities must move speedily to identify a place where they could relocate to continue earning their daily bread.
Otherwise, we create another problem, that is, human hardship, which certainly should be avoided at all cost.
We have heard vendors complain of losing their tables and other belongings in the process of evicting them.
They further argued that they are not illegal street vendors, since the KMC approved their presence in those locations, in the first place, and collected tax daily from them.
Whatever the case, the council and the vendors must come to a reasonable arrangement whereby there is a win-win situation.
We need a clean environment; the vendors are giving a useful public service while earning their livelihood; and, at the same time, the council earns revenue.
There you have the ingredients for coming up with a win-win situation, as required in this case.
Thus we are advocating for a constructive dialogue between the council and the street vendors, so that we put in place measures that could be sustainable.
One question worth asking is why the vendors prefer to remain on the streets, instead of using the markets provided by the KMC.
Are the markets not sufficient to accommodate all the vendors? Or are the charges paid in the market for the stalls too high for them?
Whatever the case, the council staff needs to invite these people to have a dialogue at the council chambers, to discuss with them why they are doing this.
KMC must also use the media to sensitize the public on the need to keep the streets clean, and to stop littering, whether they are individuals walking, people riding in a car or entrepreneurs operating a business outlet.