Street vendors cleared from around downtown government buildings

Continuing a policy of removing informal markets from Central Cairo, the government has evicted street vendors from the streets surrounding the parliament and other government buildings in downtown Cairo.


“This area is home to most of the ministries and is a symbol of the government’s prestige. We will not allow the entrances of ministries to be turned into street markets,” Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb declared during a walking tour of the area on Sunday. He told vendors new places would be found for them, according to a statement from the cabinet.


Street markets proliferated in downtown after the 2011 revolution, as rising unemployment pushed people into the informal sector and lax policing allowed markets to be established. Their presence increased congestion in the areas already crowded streets, and local shops complained that vendors hurt business by undercutting prices.


Since President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was elected president in 2014, the government has launched a series of campaigns to move vendors from the city center.


Last summer, street sellers were evicted from Talaat Harb Street, Qasr al-Nil Street, Abdel Khalek Tharwat Street and Abdel Moneim Riyad Square in Downtown to the Turgoman bus station parking lot near Ramses Square. 


Vendors complained that the move made it impossible for them to make a living at a time when they have few other economic opportunities. Not enough stalls were available for all of the vendors, they said, and the parking lot did not attract enough foot traffic to support those who did find space.


In April 2015, vendors were relocated again from Ramses Square to  another temporary site at Ahmed Helmy Station. 


In the meantime, the government has launched a beatification scheme that included painting the facades of many of downtown’s buildings. Last week, it also banned the use of tuk-tuks in downtown Cairo and several other central districts.


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