ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Division (PASSD) in collaboration with Capital Development Authority (CDA), Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) and ICT administration has launched another welfare initiative under its Ehsaas programme through which poor hand-pushed cart owners have been provided 25 modern eco-friendly carts.

The move is aimed at creating an enabling environment for street vendors so they can earn an honourable living. At present, the carts have been provided to vendors in G-11 however later on, the project will be expanded to the entire capital.

Dr Sania Nishtar visited the Ehsaas Rehribaan site in G-11 Markaz on Monday to interact with street vendors who have been provided with improved carts and training to streamline local vending activities.

Speaking to journalists during the visit, Dr Nishtar said: “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 and Social Safety Division (PASSD), Capital Development Authority (CDA), Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI), ICT Administration and Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (Pide).

Ehsaas Rehribaan is the first project of its kind in the country wherein street vendors are engaging with multiple government stakeholders to contribute effectively to the local economy. The vendors were happy to see Dr Nishtar and appreciated the government for providing them with vending licences along with improved carts. They said now they will not have to run away when the municipal authorities visit the area.

The initiative is an outcome of months of work, consultations and engagement among various government stakeholders to crystallise contours of the interventions, meant to improve the street vending ecosystem in Islamabad. According to findings of a survey, there are overall 85 street vendors operating in G-11 Markaz. The placement of the remaining 60 street vendors in G-11 with improved carts will be up scaled later this year.

Amer Ali Ahmed, chairman of Capital Development Authority (CDA), elaborated on directives from Prime Minister Imran Khan for addressing the plight of street vendors through a sustainable solution. He emphasised 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 MCI, said the vendors had tears of disbelief in their eyes as they never thought that a government official would ever approach them with sympathy and they will be regularised under objective criteria, without any nepotism.

Zia Banday, focal person on the Street Vendors’ Initiative, said that Pide in partnership with Ehsaas has already conducted street vendor surveys in a number of areas in Islamabad. “After the successful execution of the pilot project in G-11 Markaz, the initiative will be scaled up through coverage of additional areas and regularisation of more street vendors. The intervention will not only provide decent livelihood for people from lower strata but will also enhance the city’s outlook with the placement of aesthetically pleasing carts,” he added.

Published in Dawn, May 4th, 2021

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