Reprieve for footpath traders

Reprieve for footpath traders

Ban lifted for city vendors in 900 spots

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has promised it will allow vendors back on footpaths under certain restrictions next year, senator Sungsidh Piriyarangsan says.

The pledge came after the government-appointed committee on tackling poverty and disparities discussed the issue with BMA officials led by Bangkok governor Aswin Kwanmuang on Tuesday, said Mr Sungsidh, who chairs the committee.

Mr Sungsidh said on Facebook that next year the BMA will gradually allow vendors who were removed from locations where trade was permitted only temporarily, to resume their trade under certain regulations.

The BMA has banned footpath trading and handed street vendors a deadline of Dec 31 to clear their stalls off pavements. Temporary permission to trade at more than 900 locations has been cancelled, affecting more than 200,000 vendors, Mr Sungsidh said.

During the meeting with the BMA, Pol Gen Aswin argued the trading ban applies only to vendors on major streets in inner Bangkok, not to vendors in small alleys. This month, the BMA will also turn Silom, Yaowarat and Khao San roads into pedestrian-only zones at certain times as a part of its bid to boost tourist numbers and the local economy, Mr Sungsidh said.

He said he agreed with the BMA's footpath policy, but added he wanted City Hall to attach more importance to the informal economy, which has close links with the formal economy. "For example, employees and civil servants in the formal economy have to rely on affordable meals offered by street vendors almost every day,'' Mr Sungsidh said.

"Removing vendors from footpaths means those employees will have to buy expensive meals and hundreds of thousands of vendors will be put out of work, weakening the grassroots economy and the purchasing power of society as a whole,'' he said.

He added Thai street food has been named among the 10 most popular foods for 10 consecutive years in a survey by the World Tourism Organisation. "Therefore, a ban on street food will destroy a strong point of the country's tourism,'' Mr Sungsidh said.

He said it was necessary to ensure a harmony of benefits between vendors and pedestrians, including sharing the same space. If a footpath is four metres wide, vendors will be allotted two metres for trade, he said, adding street-food stalls also need to comply with hygiene, orderliness and environmental standards.

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