Thu, 27 Apr 2000

Action against unregistered vendors postponed

JAKARTA (JP): The City Administration has delayed taking firm action against 120,000 unregistered street vendors operating in the capital on humanitarian grounds and will wait until the recovery of the country's economy, an official said on Wednesday.

The head of the City's Coordinator for Informal Sectors and Infrastructure, Suryantika, said that although the ideal way to treat those vendors was through law enforcement, leeway should be allowed following the economic woe that has blighted the country since 1997.

"There were farmers who came to work in the capital when the crisis hit the country. They expected to earn more here than in their hometowns," Suryantika said, noting that most of them became vendors as they could not find jobs, as many companies had laid off their workers.

Most of the migrants run their businesses from kiosks they set up in the streets which eventually disturb traffic flow and cause congestion.

Suryantika said that, under the present economic conditions, firm measures against vendors operating in one area could trigger a strong reaction from others in different parts of the capital.

"This is the challenge we have to face in order to discipline their operations," he said, explaining why the city administration had to delay taking action and find a better solution regarding the problem.

The city, he said, tried to provide them plots in the periphery of Jakarta to relocate their businesses, but without creating public disorderliness.

"We offered them the plots but they rejected them, saying that areas outside Jakarta would not bring them good profits," he said, adding that his office would monitor their operations to ensure that they would not create more problems.

He said the city administration planned to cooperate with the provincial administrations of West Sumatra and Central and East Java -- where most of the vendors are from -- to provide people with more facilities to do business in their respective hometowns.

He noted, however, that the plan could be carried out once the provinces gained their autonomous status' which would enable them to optimize the exploration of local resources.

"Regional autonomy will enable local governments to develop their own provinces, so local residents would not have to flock to the capital to earn their living," he said.

Touching on the city's failure to develop the business of registered vendors in the capital, Suryantika said that his office was unable to find big companies which would supply the vendors with goods at competitive prices.

He said the failure was partly caused by the country's economic uncertainty which had made cooperation between vendors and manufacturers almost impossible. (06)