Vendors must have permit
The Addis Ababa Trade Bureau which recently had a street trade policy approved by the city council told Capital that it looked at every sub city and identified 45 potential locations for street vendors to conduct business legally.
They picked these places largely because they had low traffic congestion, asphalt roads, and open spaces. So far 19,000 vendors have registered to work in these places.
When these designated street vending locations open up vendors will be allowed to sell small electronic items like watches, mobiles and sockets; they also will be able to sell electrical wires, tape, and beverages like packed juices and soft drinks.
There will also be places to sell clothing and street foods like biscuits, chips, sweet candies and snack foods.
Of the 45 potential spots eight are located in Kirkos and will open in 14 days. By the end of the Ethiopian year the 37 additional vending spots should be open for business.
Recently the Addis Ababa Trade Bureau established a department to handle street trading in the city and they are currently hiring staff to run it.
The street trading department will have more than 2,000 staff. Some will work in the central office while others will work in the Weredas or work alongside transportation, customs, roads, police, traffic beatification and parks bureaus to properly manage street vendors.
Birhanu Tegegn, Trade License Registration Director at the Trade Bureau told Capital that how long and when the vending places are open depends on the traffic congestion.
A month ago staff from the city administration traveled to Bangkok to learn how that city dealt with street trading.
“Some places will be open Monday through Sunday as long as it doesn’t impact traffic. If traffic congestion occurs we will limit the vending to nights and weekends. We will do that because we don’t want to disturb people and the movement of cars around the area.’’
He added that vendors working on the street must have a license.
“For a long time we didn’t have designated street vending areas but now we are ready to do this so what they need to do is to have a permit card displayed. That card will state their name, type of business they are conducting, the area they are allowed to operate in and the legal stamp from the bureau. If they operate without this permit they will face legal action including having what they are selling confiscated and possible imprisonment,” he added.
He stated that they also must be residents of Addis Ababa. Although the mayor’s office plans to discuss how to handle street vendors who are not residents of Addis Ababa.
Previously the city administration designated places like Megenagna, Six Killo, and Kolfe for street vending but many ignored this and sold their items in other places.
Today, street vendors in Addis sell jewelry, electronic gadgets, fruits and vegetables, second hand clothing including underwear and other items.
The exact number of vendors in the city is unknown but a 2014 random study indicated that there were 87,000 street vendors at that time now it is estimated that there are over 117,000 vendors working on the street without paying taxes or holding any license.
The streets of Addis Ababa are becoming vibrant and crowded, especially after work-hours, with street vendors selling different items.
Thus, in the evenings, the pedestrian walks are crowded with sellers and buyers bending down to look at various products and trying to decide if they want to buy them. This happens throughout Addis Ababa. The new method of handling street vendors is expected to help unclog the walkways. Some research has indicated that street vending represents a significant share of the informal urban economy. Poverty and high levels of unemployment in the city have seen the number of street vendors increase as they take up street trading as a means of survival or to better their economic situation.