By,ABID SIDDIQUE CHAUDHRY
Islamabad has become the first municipality in Pakistan to set-up a dedicated Street Economy Unit. This initiative is in continuation of MCI’s collaboration with Ehsaas program and Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) in the design and implementation of an effective intervention for streamlining street vending in Islamabad. Syeda Shafaq Hashmi, Administrator of MCI, remains of the view that governance of street vendors has been a low priority area for city authorities. However, the situation has changed with the interest of Dr. Sania Nishtar, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation, in enhancing street livelihood for the poor and mostly migrant segment.
Under her guidance, PIDE has facilitated MCI in the structuring of Street Economy Unit. Besides instituting effectual governance of street vending, another key objective of this endeavor is to create recognition of street vending as a legitimate vocation and livelihood tool for the poor. Street vending in Islamabad, like other urban centers of Pakistan, is marked with lack of regularization, haphazard vending, ineffective eviction campaigns, congestion, environmental and corruption issues. MCI is striving to pilot a successful Street Economy Unit, which may be replicated in other municipalities of the country.