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ISLAMABAD: Dr Sania Nishtar visited the ‘Ehsaas Rehribaan’ site in G-11 Markaz of the federal capital to interact with street vendors who have been provided with improved carts and training to streamline local vending activities.

The collaborative street vending initiative aims to create an enabling environment for street vendors in Islamabad. During the visit, Dr. Sania walked around the vending carts and met with local street vendors. She obtained their viewpoints on the multistakeholder initiative and explored possibilities to improve the street vending ecosystem. Under the umbrella of Ehsaas, model vending carts with ecofriendly structures have recently been handed over to a select number of existing vendors in G-11.

Speaking to media during the visit, Dr Sania stated, “In line with the PM’s vision to create an enabling environment for street vendors, ‘Ehsaas Rehribaan’ has embarked upon furthering local vending to improve overall ecology. The model vending initiative is an outcome of collaboration between Poverty Alleviation & Social Safety Division (PASSD), Capital Development Authority (CDA), Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI), ICT Administration and Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE).”

‘Ehsaas Rehribaan’ is a first pilot project of its kind in the country wherein street vendors are being actively engaged with multiple government stakeholders to contribute effectively to local economy. Street vendors were happy to see Dr. Sania around them. They lauded Ehsaas that this was the first time that the government has provided vending license and improved carts to them. Now, they can earn their respectable living and do not have to run away when municipal authorities visit the area.

‘Ehsaas Rehribaan’ initiative is an outcome of months of work, consultations, and engagement among various government stakeholders to crystallize the contours of the interventions, meant to improve street vending ecosystem in Islamabad. Currently, Ehsaas has provided prototype vending carts to 25 street vendors in the first phase. According to findings of a street vendor survey, there are overall 85-street vendors operating in G-11, Markaz. The placement of remaining 60-street vendors in G-11 with improved carts will be upscaled later this year.

Amer Ali Ahmed, Chairman Capital Development Authority (CDA), elaborated on the directives from Prime Minister Imran Khan for addressing the plight of street vendors through a sustainable solution. He emphasized that this multi-partite collaboration will be expanding its footprint in facilitating more street vendors in other areas of the city. CDA is working on making this street vendor model scalable and replicable for urban Pakistan.

Syeda Shafaq Hashmi, Administrator Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad, reflected upon the moving experience during handing over of new carts to vendors in G-11 Markaz. She said that with tears in their eyes, vendors, with over 20-years of vending experience, were in disbelief. They never thought that any government official will ever approach them with empathy and they will be regularized under objective criteria, without any nepotism.—PR

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021