Sidewalks with or without street vendors?

camelôs-10When dealing with Recife, the question can seem unfit, since we’re a land of peddlers. But the fact is that the occupation of public spaces has, for a long time, surpassed a reasonable barrier. In some parts of the city, the pedestrian needs to ask permission to walk through a space that is essentially theirs. To deal with informal commerce in the city is quite a task, and in the least, inglorious for Urban Control. But worse than having to spend time and energy to remove them is to allow them to set up shop.

In 2008, when Avenida Conde da Boa Vista was refurbished to the tune of R$14 million with the installation of the central bus corridor, the sidewalks were all redone with interlocked stones to facilitate accessibility. During the occasion, all the peddlers were removed from the avenue and relocated to nearby streets. It didn’t take a long time for them to once again occupy the corridor, whose artery is the main access point to downtown. Conde da Boa Vista was again taken up and the side streets remained occupied just the same.

Every year, the number of street vendors in the city only increases. Aside from the social problem, it’s undeniable the facility with which they find and take up a piece of the sidewalk, thereby becoming theirs. The removal of informal commerce from the sidewalks is a relief for the pedestrian. The walkways seem larger and cleaner. The lack of space, aside from the discomfort, makes things unsafe.

The challenge for the government, now, is to provide better conditions for the informal sector. The downmarket mall project is one alternative, mainly due to being designed for areas near the central corridor. The expectation, however, was that the act was to occur after the delivery of the shopping centers, but the city decided to bump it up and one of the reasons is that the number of peddlers already surpassed those that had been registered in 2013. For those that got there afterwards, the message has been that there’s nothing for them. They must find another parish. Maybe on Conde da Boa Vista itself, after the dust settles. [Diario de Pernambuco]


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