Fruit ven­dors share more than down­town pave­ment

share more than down­town pave­ment

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - NYO ME

JUST next to Bo­gyoke Mar­ket and in front of FMI Cen­tre, a cadre of about 40 street ven­dors sell lo­cal snacks, fruits, veg­eta­bles, clothes and paint­ings. Most tourists and Yan­go­nites have squeezed through their ranks on the way to the mar­ket or a cup of joe at Bar Boon.

But if you peer closely into the faces be­hind the pome­los and man­goes, you might no­tice some re­sem­blances from stall to stall. It’s no coin­ci­dence – most of th­ese ven­dors are fam­ily.

“My mother and her younger sis­ter have been sell­ing fruits around Bo­gyoke

zay since they were teenagers,” said fruit-seller Ma Yin Yin Nwe, 24. “Now, my mom is 60 years old.”

Ac­cord­ing to Mya Yin Yin New, around 12 of her fel­low ven­dors are re­lated in some way to her mom – who she asked not be named – and her aunt. She sells rambu­tans next to cousins sell­ing man­goes and an older sis­ter sell­ing mote own nout, a Myan­mar snack of steamed rice and su­gar.

“When I was young, I started out help­ing my mom,” Ma Yin Yin Nwe said. “Even­tu­ally I started sell­ing in a blank spot when I got older.”

Now it feels as if there are no blank spots left. Since Myan­mar Rail­ways closed its head­quar­ters for good in 1994, a lot has changed on the stretch of pave­ment be­tween Sule Pagoda Road and Bo­gyoke Mar­ket. Park­son and FMI Cen­tre went up; a com­pound for Myan­mar rail­way em­ploy­ees came down.

That com­pound used to house the pa­tri­arch of an­other ven­dor fam­ily. Daw Thi­dar Nwe, 37, has been sell­ing veg­eta­bles since she was a lit­tle girl – whose fa­ther worked as a type­writer clerk for the rail­road.

“We had a room at the com­pound [since re­placed by FMI Cen­tre],” she said. “His salary wasn’t enough for the whole fam­ily, so my mom and other staff fam­i­lies be­gan sell­ing goods out­side the build­ing.”

She says that, back then, there were other ven­dors hawk­ing their wares along Bo­gyoke Road. But many were forced out to In­sein town­ship when the rail­road hous­ing com­pound was de­mol­ished 22 years ago.

“We had to move, but I still come and sell be­cause I’ve been sell­ing here since I was young, with my mom,” she said. “This place is like my own place.”

And though Nwe Daw Thi­dar Nwe’s other fam­ily mem­bers no longer re­turn to where they got their start, she still man­ages to en­joy a fa­mil­ial at­mos­phere. No­body en­croaches on her ter­ri­tory or un­der­cuts her prices.

“Some of us are truly re­lated, but that doesn’t mean the rest are strangers,” said Yin Yin Nwe’s older sis­ter, who like her mother asked not to be named. “Be­cause we’ve all been here for so long, we are like one big ven­dor fam­ily.”

She added that, if she has to miss a day of sell­ing, her fel­low ven­dors will sell her snacks for her and give her the money she missed.

What will the fu­ture hold?

The fam­ily has de­ci­sions to make soon, how­ever. Yan­gon’s quickly ris­ing sky­line is likely to dis­place the ven­dors, with Yoma Strate­gic Hold­ings set to build Land­mark De­vel­op­ment on a 10-acre block that spans from Bo­gyoke to the old Rail­way Head­quar­ters – run­ning right through their cus­tom­ary spots.

Man­age­ment at FMI Cen­tre and Park­son have long al­lowed the ven­dors to work in front of the build­ing be­cause they recog­nise that the ven­dors were there first, even if Yan­gon City De­vel­op­ment Com­mit­tee has oc­ca­sion­ally ar­rested un­li­censed ven­dors as re­cently as April.

But the priv­i­lege to sell with­out com­pli­ca­tion may run out in Jan­uary 2017, when Yoma’s mas­sive de­vel­op­ment breaks ground.

“Some of­fi­cials told us re­cently that we have to move when they start, but they told us we could ap­ply for jobs at their stores when they fin­ish their project – or some­thing like that,” Ma Yin Yin Nwe said. “I think we will have to move, be­cause it’s dan­ger­ous to sell so close to a con­struc­tion site.”

Larger fam­i­lies, with many chil­dren in school, are con­cerned about find­ing a new, equally lu­cra­tive lo­ca­tion from which to sell their wares; Ma Yin Yin New said she thinks she can find a place if she has to.

“All of us are think­ing about it now,” she said.

Pho­tos: Nyo Me

Ap­ples for sale next to Bo­gyoke Mar­ket pro­vide a liveli­hood to a hand­ful of large fam­i­lies, who have hawked their wares on that stretch of pave­ment for decades.

Ma Yin Yin Nwe (far right) waits for passersby to buy her rambu­tans.

Daw Thi­dar Nwe (cen­tre in grey) re­mem­bers when the fam­i­lies of Myan­mar Rail­way work­ers hawked goods to make ex­tra money, back be­fore their hous­ing com­pound was de­stroyed in 1994 to make way for Park­son and FMI Cen­ter.

Daw San San Myint, an aunt to Ma Yin Yin Nwe, of­fers sam­ples to some hun­gry back­pack­ers.

Ma Yin Yin New says at least 12 of the 40 ven­dors stretch­ing along the side­walk in front of FMI Cen­tre are her di­rect rel­a­tives, with sev­eral other fam­i­lies mak­ing up the rest of the street mer­chants in the area.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Myanmar

© PressReader. All rights reserved.