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Plan to move Downtown street vendors to car park may cause traffic problems

Cairo officials plan to move street vendors to Torgoman car park as a temporary measure, displacing motorists who use the space

Bassem Abo Alabass, Friday 27 Jun 2014
Street Vendors
(Photo: Al-Ahram news website)
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Within a few days, thousands of Egypt's street vendors will move temporarily to the car park attached to Torgoman station in downtown Cairo, leaving motorists to look for another place to leave their cars.

"The government is trying to solve the street vendors' issue, but it will leave a greater problem," Alaa, a parking assistant at the car park, told Ahram Online. "Traffic congestion is expected around Torgoman as there is no other place for cars to park."

Currently the capacity of Torgoman parking lot is around 500 vehicles, but after positioning the vendors there it may only take 20 to 30 cars, Alaa said.

No one was available to comment from Egypt's traffic authority.

Following the official inauguration of Egypt's newly elected president Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, the interior ministry launched a concerted campaign to remove unauthorised street vendors and their stalls from the streets of Cairo and other Egyptian cities.

There have been repeated attempts to clear vendors from areas where they congregate such as Talaat Harb Street, 26 July Street and Ramsis Street in central Cairo. Police action has at times led to clashes and violence with the vendors, who say there are no legal alternative locations to set up their stalls.

One of the main purposes of the crackdown is to intensify the presence of security forces, and ease traffic.

"Torgoman is qualified to carry around 3,000 vendors, and it’s a temporary place until Wabour El-Talg yard is ready for them," Cairo's governor Galal El-Saeed said in comments to a local television channel last week.

Wabour El-Talg is a 1,000 metre-square area in the centre of the city.

"We have sent an appeal to the president, asking for 30-day grace period to move to Turgoman, but currently we want to stay at our known places, especially in Ramadan, the holy Islamic month," street vendor representative Ahmed Hussein told Ahram Online.

Hussein added that even if the president refused the appeal, vendors would obey the governmental order and move to Turgoman.

"The government will take around LE450 per month from each vendor as rental fees for the three square metres he will occupy," Hussein said, citing the Cairo governor's deputy.

According to Hussein there are some six million street vendors nationwide.

The vendors are part of Egypt's vast informal sector that makes up 30 percent of the state's economy and employs 40 percent of the country’s labour force, according to state-run news agency MENA citing former finance minister Ahmed Galal in January.

Egypt’s unemployment rate stands at 13.4 percent of a labour force of 27.3 million people in 2013, according to official statistics, although many experts say the figure is actually higher.

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