Our Readers' Opinions
February 13, 2009
Empowering the road side vendors

by Nilio Gumbs 13.FEB.09

Some time ago, I wrote an article titled the “Growing Informal Economy”, postulating different reasons for such a recent phenomenon in this country, barring the persistent legacy of the peasantry and weekend market. In another article titled the “Crowding Out Effect in the Merchandizing Sector”, I also posit bolder reason for this situation- citing the unregulated influx of foreigners crowding out local and an aspiring small business class.{{more}}

The hastened pace at which vendors sought to rebuild their roadside business along the Tokyo water front, after divine intervention in the destruction of their stalls, illuminates the gravity and plight facing these vendors in their quest to be self employed and empowered.

In destroying the erected shading of these vendors from their temporary structures, it would seem to suggest that the relevant authority is oblivious to the very reason why they can thrive and survive in such a hostile societal and economic climate- simply they are providing a positive contribution to society and filling a void that does exist as it pertains to such commercial activities in this country. If such was not the case, they would all be out of business a long time ago.

A more rational response by the authorities would be dialogue with and a forum of how best to meet the needs of these vendors.

Welfare payments, price control on basic staples and minimum wages do assuage poverty, but do not empower an individual to remove the shackles of poverty that bedevils their lives and their life chances.

Land entitlement, access to quality education, health care, water and housing by the poor are positive policy measures that do enable the poor to participate in meaningful ways in the society; but employment with just reward for labor is the fundamental basic tool that will empower an individual and the poor in general to realize their true potentialities, given economic and social constraints.

Poverty alleviation should not be viewed from simply a situational but also from a generational stand point. In order for vendors’ siblings to lift themselves out of poverty in the future, through quality education, hard work and an indomitable spirit to survive, then their parents have to be able to work and sacrifice today not only to be empowered but that of their siblings in the future.