‘Street vendors, their contested spaces, and the policy environment: a view from Caloocan, Metro Manila’

There’s an article in the March 2013 issue of SAGE Publications’ Journal of Environment and Urbanization Asia entitled Street Vendors, their Contested Spaces, and the Policy Environment: A View from Caloocan, Metro Manila that MMDA and urban planners in Metro Manila will find useful.

Rationale 

In developing states of Southeast Asia, street vendors play a significant but frequently unappreciated role in both the vibrancy of public spaces as well as the informal economy. Yet, they are subject to indiscriminate purges from sidewalks and other contested territories, which they occupy for lack of provision of spaces in which they could otherwise do business. But such occurrences, and the conflicts that may follow, can be addressed by revisiting policies, which seem anti-vendor or which fail to comprehend their presence and needs.

Purpose

the paper offers critical reflection points to which urban planners may refer in revisiting planning frameworks and in coming up with concrete steps on how to address informality as an urban spatial concern.

Scope and Methodology

From June 2009 through September 2011, the research studied street vendors of one of the active commuter interchanges of Metro Manila, the Bonifacio Monumento Station area in Caloócan, framing their needs, issues and aspirations against existing laws. Simultaneously examined were typical uses of shifting, often contested stretches of roads, corners and easements where hawkers, among other users, daily negotiate for a claim to the city’s space.

Conclusion

in order for negative or inefficient dynamics to be avoided or removed, the first step may have to be a serious reconsideration of the mental paradigms that players bring into the picture. That is, a duality exists and is constructed, it appears, out of the differing perceptions of hawkers (which by themselves are divided among the organized and the unorganized), the regulators (the street level bureaucrat to the high-level metro-wide enforcer), commercial locators, and even habitual transients who may both fret at the obstacle maze created by vendors while at the same time patronize the vendors’ products—such as popular bootleg DVD movies, for instance.

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