The history of Pakistan is a witness to the hard times that the street hawkers had to face. From forcefully removing their carts to not allowing them to have any legal rights over the land they set up their carts. They had to move from one place to another, hiding from authorities just to earn some rupees to feed themselves and their families. Street hawkers have been deprived of their rights since the get-go. But not anymore as the government has launched the mazdoor ka Ehsaas program.
Mazdoor Ka Ehsaas Program
Street hawkers or street vendors are people who sell things like fruits, vegetables, etc. on carts or any other transport. In Pakistan, for long time street hawkers have been facing many problems while selling their goods. As setting up a cart or small vending shop in front of a shop or in a market is illegal. However, the incumbent government took a notice of it and introduced the Ehsaas Street Hawker initiative under the flagship program Mazdoor ka Ehsaas Program.
The program is a collaborative work of the Capital Development Authority (CDA), and the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE), Islamabad Capital Territory Administration (ICTA), and Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI).
The first phase of the program, the Ehsaas Street hawker initiative will be first launched in Islamabad. The government aims at uplifting the social and economic conditions of the vendors. This is a part of the government’s bigger scheme to improve the living conditions of all the people of the country.
Benefits of Ehsaas Street Hawker Initiative
Under this initiative, the 200 street hawkers would be given eco-friendly carts and vending licenses from the municipality. Now there would be no encroachment operations against the street hawkers. They can work independently while not having to pay unfair rents to the shopkeepers. They can now enjoy the full share of their earnings with their family.
Syed Tahir Sardar, a shop repairer in Islamabad, upon this initiative said “This is for the first time in the history that any government paid heed to the concerns of the street vendors and took steps to ensure their respectable earning through providing them a proper legal space, license certificate, and new eco-friendly carts. This scheme has facilitated me and other vendors.”
Talking about the challenges faced in the past, Tahir said “Earlier, we were facing issues due to sitting illegally in the main markets and bearing loss whenever Capital Development Authority (CDA) launched encroachment operations.”
Another street vendor and a beneficiary of the initiative expressed joy and satisfaction upon receiving the cart. Zahid Javed who sells garments said, “We can leave the stall there and freely move to do other tasks. We are thankful to the present government and urge to include us in other initiatives of the Ehsaas program.”
This program has made the life of many vendors easy. Hopefully, this is going to expand to all parts of Pakistan. Dr. Sania Nishtar, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation and Social Protection said “The marginalized segment of street vendors is an integral part of the local economy, which cannot be wished away in a low-income country like Pakistan.”
Street hawkers play a huge role in advancing the urban economy. However, in the past, only restrictions were imposed on them but never once thought of their rights, privileges, and their well-being. With this initiative, they are too made a part of the system. This surely is a commendable initiative.