Agreement cancelled; fresh EoI to be invited for project for street vendors

Fate has not been kind to the Suvidha welfare scheme, meant to rehabilitate street vendors in the city. Last Friday, the agreement between the Corporation and the two companies selected to provide mobile carts for vendors was withdrawn as compromise could not be reached on the provision of a bank guarantee. A meeting will be scheduled next week to decide when to invite the new Expression of Interest (EoI). This time, only government-accredited agencies need apply.

Unreasonable demands by Corporation councillors and delay in choosing beneficiaries had stalled the project that had otherwise seen smooth sailing during the tendering stage.

Thirty vendors near Museum had been chosen as the beneficiaries of the project. However, some councillors had demanded that the project be implemented simultaneously across different points in the city from the beginning itself. The dissenting councillors pointed out that this was a pilot project, and hence it would be practical to launch it around Museum, which is near the Corporation office.

Two private companies, one based in Kilimanoor and the other at Vazhuthacaud, had agreed to manufacture the modern push carts that would cost Rs.1.30 lakh each. But a fresh hurdle cropped up when they refused to provide a bank guarantee. This was a given, said welfare standing committee chairman Palayam Rajan, especially since the previous reports mentioned that the total cost per unit (including working capital) would come up to Rs.2 lakh, of which 70 per cent was a bank loan and 25 per cent would come from the Poverty Social Fund of the Kerala Sustainable Urban Development Project. Only five per cent has to be borne by the beneficiary.

Suvidha intends to create hawking zones and issue identity cards to vendors. The cart’s design prioritises proper disposal of waste and storage of water. Vendors have to be wary of eviction now, but this project legitimises their mode of livelihood.

The project has stretched to almost three years since it was initially mooted in August 2011. However, officials are optimistic that it could materialise around Onam.