More youngsters turning to street vending

Relatively young people are submitting applications in large numbers for starting street vending ventures in the period following the outbreak of COVID-19, according to data from the Thiruvananthapuram city Corporation.

Officials of the National Urban Livelihoods Mission (NULM), which handle applications for new street vendors, have been noticing a larger number of applicants in the 25-45 age group, compared to the years before the pandemic.

“After the pandemic hit, we have received around 600 new applications for street vending. Some of these are old vendors who do not have a licence, and are applying because it is mandatory now. But, about 20-25% of the new applications are from youngsters. Till a couple of years back, a majority of the street vending applications used to be from people above the age of 50,” an NULM official said.

Most youngsters prefer to start fast food joints, selling shawarma and rolls. Many find it easier to start street vending businesses from vehicles or carts, considering the difficulty and expenses of getting a shop space in areas where business is guaranteed.

Quite a few of the youngsters are either those who have been unsuccessfully seeking salaried jobs or those who have lost their jobs during the pandemic. Late last year, The Hindu in a quick survey found several new vendors in the capital’s streets, hawking everything from masks to fruits and cooked food as an alternate source of revenue. Some of them had said they were doing this as a stop-gap arrangement.

The Thiruvananthapuram Corporation had last conducted a comprehensive survey of street vendors in 2015, when the number of vendors was found to be 3,498. At present, the officials are preparing for a resurvey using a new mobile application prepared by the Centre. According to them, as many as 200 of the vendors who were identified in 2015 have died, while some have left street vending and gone to other businesses. However, many others have newly taken up street vending for survival. An accurate tally of street vendors in the city will be known only after the resurvey.

The process of giving identity cards to street vendors is still going on, with cards now given to 1,400 vendors. The reconstituting of the city’s street vending committee is also on the cards. An ad hoc committee formed in 2015 is managing the affairs, including the clearing of applications. The formation of an elected committee has been held up due to the pandemic.

All street vendors in the city have voting rights on the committee, which will have nine representatives from among the vendors. Officials of the city Corporation, district administration, and the Police Department will also be part of it.

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Printable version | Jul 30, 2021 11:55:08 PM |

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