But there was less thought given to the physical functionality and locational factors of how these spaces would work; key concerns of vendors. In the absence of effective site plans and designs, including infrastructural elements integrating the market with its urban surroundings, vendors are more inclined to return to the streets.
The formalized free market environment, and the extension of property rights to street vendors, unwittingly hindered rather than advanced their economic empowerment. Many vendors were unprepared and incapable of competing in fixed purpose built facilities alongside vendors possessing more business experience, greater financial resources, or unfair locational advantages, as well as those skirting regulation. In such cases, economic empowerment requires more interventionist policies on behalf of vendors to protect them from unfair competition and help them adapt to, and find niches within the market.
The research revealed that while governments focused on ensuring the relocation of street vendors through a process of negotiation, their role in supporting vendors ended there. There was no policy maintenance and enforcement following relocation, nor the provision of training and support around financial literacy, management skills, and other capacities are additionally needed for vendors to remain in the markets and thrive.
Kota Kita’s research into informal vendors helps to refocus the attention of policies that support vendors from short-term solutions, aimed at managing public space, towards considerations of economic empowerment of the urban poor and their rights to urban space, accessibility, and mobility.