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More Protests by banned Street Vendors

By Salome Modebadze
Tuesday, August 17
The street vendors ended their protest rally held in front of Tbilisi City Hall and directed at the Mayor of Tbilisi, Gigi Ugulava on August 16. There were no particular results to their demands that their rights be reinstated. Asking for the relevant regulations on street vending and in defense of their rights, the street traders submitted an application addressed to Gigi Ugulava asking for the legalisation of their activities and the right to resume trade at the places they used to before the official ban. “It is important that the street vendors are able to defend their rights and achieve the establishment of street-trading rules. Street trading is common in many cities throughout the world but the relevant municipalities appoint special places for such traders. But the struggle should now cease for a while ...” Lasha Chkhartishvili, from the Conservative Party told the media.

Emphasising that street-trade is a traditional part of this city’s life Chkhartishvili encouraged the protesters to set up a Street Vendors’ Professional League which would ensure regulations for the vendors and establish their official status. The vendors therefore plan to visit their previous trading locations and gather signatures from the passers-by for a right to return to their jobs.

Claiming the vendors would be given some latitude if they move to the closed markets, Gigi Ugulava, Mayor of Tbilisi banned street trading on August 10. But the traders doubt whether they will be really given free places at the large markets for six-months or how they would overcome the competition with their small-budget turnovers.

Tbilisi City Hall has not commented on the issue. The Messenger asked the Press Service of the Office to share the Mayor’s concerns about the issue but the request was in vain. Meanwhile the vendors plan to hold a large scale rally at President Mikheil Saakashvili’s Residence on August 18. They believe President Saakashvili’s involvement to be necessary to resolve their problems. Street vending was first prohibited two years ago, at that time the traders tried to develop their small trades at the expensive closed markets, but failed due to high fees and found it impossible to keep their families.