Plastic shops for street vendors worsening congestion

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(Photo: Anteneh Aklilu)

In an attempt to reduce crowding, special shops have been built for street vendors in Addis Ababa. However, now pedestrians are complaining that they are blocking the sidewalks and casing people to walk in the street.
During a recent tour of the city, Capital observed new shops up and running in places like Cherkos, Kassanches, Autobus Terra, and Sidist Kilo and these shops were disrupting the pedestrian traffic flow. The shops are made out of plastic. They sell items like electronics, watches, sockets, electric wires and beverages like packed juices and soft drinks, clothing, and street foods like biscuits, chips, sweet candies snacks.
The Addis Ababa Trade Bureau randomly chose the sites for the shops to legalize the informal street vendors found throughout the city.
According to the trade bureau the shops were placed in such a manner so as not to affect movement of people and they will crack down on sellers blocking foot traffic.
However, some residents say not enough preparation was done before deciding on locations for the shops.
Yohannes Gobeze, 34 from Arada sub city says there are already problems with increasing traffic accidents so if people are clogging the main roads by selling items, the problem will worsen.
According to the city’s traffic management agency, not all of the new shops are operating legally.
“The places have been selected by a small division of the administration (the Werdas). We agreed that every shop must receive approval from the agency before they start working but honestly speaking a few shops brought a letter to us in an attempt to become legal after they had already opened, so we will discuss this with other agencies to solve this problem.’’
Anecdotal evidence suggests the number of street vendors is increasing. The most recent study was in 2014, which showed an estimated 87,000 street vendors. However, there seems to be almost double that amount now as poverty leads people to use this as a means of survival and it takes up a higher and higher proportion of the informal economy.