Medellín is flooded by street vendors
A UN research found that Medellín, specially the downtown area, is inundated by an excess of informal street vendors. There is also a lack of policies to improve their occupational situation.Medellín, 08 de octubre de 2012 — Agencia de Noticias UN-
William Ortiz Jiménez was the director of a the project headed by the UN-Medellín Universidad Nacional de Colombia.
The project was carried out in conjunction with the Urban Development Company of Medellín and focused on eight comunas (districts) of the city with greater presence of street vendors, with the objective of creating proposals to improve their current conditions.
“We wanted to see the possibility for street sales people not have this as his/her only source of income, but rather to find other worthy employment, and besides recover public space”, says Department of Political Science Professor and Project Director, William Ortiz Jiménez.
The project was carried out with community leaders of the locations studied and later begin an approach to individual street vendors and characterize education levels, ages and gender, amongst other aspects. This was supported by an observational task which served as basis for the work in the comunas.
The results showed an increment in street sales by use contracting services. For example, black coffee street vendors have a “boss” which sells them coffee by a thermos-full. The researchers also observed that these street vendors walked their way through the crowd, as well as some street cell-phone minute vendors.
Ortiz says that although the research didn’t focus on aspects such as “mafias”, they did identify groups which control public space in Medellín and charge a “tax” to certain street vendors, with loan mechanisms known as “drop to drop loans” which are daily loans which allow performing commercial activities and collecting payment at the end of the day. These loans can charge up to 20% of the initial amount loaned. Besides, they also discovered that some street vendors covertly contribute to illegal drug micro-trafficking.
“There is no policy for street vendors, which provide them with better occupational, social or cultural conditions”, say the researchers.
They also analyzed other consequential aspects, such as below standard food hygiene practices, such as for fried foods, which can last several days exposed, until there are sold, or environmental issues related to the disposal of waste and trash on the streets.
Although the Medellín Downtown Civil Association (CORPOCENTRO, for its Spanish acronym), says that downtown has many advantages, as the private sector has invested in new stores, malls and restaurants, it is necessary to respond to several issues of this commercial sector.
The director of the UN headed project is proposing that public space policy-makers take these results into account; for example relocate street vendors, professionalize them and provide them entrepreneurial concepts for them to have other occupational options.
Several experts in statistics, architecture, economy, history sociology and well as more than 40 undergraduate students from different faculties of the Universidad Nacional de Colombia participated in the Project.(Por: Fin/hr/clc/sup