Thursday, January 04, 2007

Pasar Baru vendors refuse to make way for trade center

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
Thursday, January 4, 2007

Hundreds of street vendors evicted from the outskirts of Pasar Baru market in Sawah Besar, Central Jakarta, have refused to move to an alternative marketplace in National Monument (Monas) park.

The vendors are insisting on running their businesses in Pasar Baru, even though their tables and tents have been taken away and a second eviction is inevitable.

"No one wants to go there (Monas). What are we going to sell in Monas? People go to Monas for sports and recreation, not to buy things. Besides, most people only go there on Sundays," the secretary of the street vendors' union, Irwan Monginsidi, said Tuesday.

He hoped the city administration would amend its decision, allowing the hawkers to continue trading in Pasar Baru, though that might require some adjustments to the placement of their kiosks.

On Monday, dozens of public order officers cleared the main entrance to Pasar Baru market and along Jl. Pasar Baru from the tables, tents and chairs used by the 244 street vendors.

Officials said the vendors had ignored the three notices that had been issued by the administration since late November.

"We are not seeking compensation, we know only too well we are only street vendors. If we are creating disorder, work out a way to get us in line, but don't isolate us in Monas," said Elhan who has been trading in the area for 15 years.

Suprihatin, the subdistrict head of Sawah Besar, said the presence of the vendors was the main obstacle for the city administration in its plan to make Pasar Baru an international trade center.

"The street vendors are uncontrollable. It's the old 'give them an inch and they'll take a mile' story. What of the traders who pay for spaces in Pasar Baru market but barely have room to move because of the street vendors?" Suprihatin said.

Azas Tigor Nainggolan, who chairs nonprofit group the Jakarta Residents Forum (Fakta), said the government's efforts to evict street vendors would never achieve lasting results.

The designated area in Monas park is also not a strategic one for the vendors.

"Many vendors who were previously evicted from around the city and forced to trade in Monas park have already gone bust. They couldn't make any money there, and rents are high," he said.

He added that the fence around the park made it "unfriendly" and would drive away prospective buyers.

"It is not like a public space, but more like the governor's private park. The very idea of moving the vendors there is ridiculous.

"This is only going to create more problems. Ironically, this is happening to people who have been able to solve their own problems. They have created their own jobs with their own money and have never relied on the government for anything. They also pay what they have to in taxes and fees. They are not part of the problem but the government makes them the problem," Azas said.

The city administration, he said, should first listen to the vendors' ideas. If they wanted to continue working in Pasar Baru, the officials and the vendors should come together to discuss possible options.

He said the street vendors were willing to cooperate with the city administration if clear guidelines were established to ensure effective localization.(02)

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