PM asks street vendors to regulate fast food and waste management

Street vendors have to replace plastic cups and plates while selling momos and Thup (rice porridge) with biodegradable cups and plates, Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said during a meeting with the street vendors of Thimphu on Thursday.

Around 32 street vendors participated in the meeting.

During the gathering, Lyonchhen shared the negative impact of waste and about zero waste hours of every month. “Food safety and waste need to be properly managed,” he said.

Lyonchhen asked the vendors to discuss among themselves and decide if there is a need to get biodegradable cups and plates from Samdrup Jongkhar.

The meeting was organized by the Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA).

Meanwhile, street food vendors selling momos, Thup and Doma remain busy from the early morning hours until late in the evening. The vendors are making use of a permanent place in town.

One of the vendors, Ap Kinley, 43, who sells Thup on Thimphu street said that there are around 32 street vendors but no proper place for each to sell fast food. He added that if government could solve this problem, business will be easier. “We have to quarrel among each other for a place to sell,” he said.

Another street vendor, Aum Norbu, 53, who sells momos at the taxi parking, said that business faces a downturn when new vendors enter their location. “If the government makes a community for street vendors then we will be able to discuss our own problems and solve among us,” she said. 

 “Because there are many vendors selling on the street, if the government could make routines for us to follow, we could sell our food on alternate days,” she said. “While some of us sell vegetable momos, others sell beef momos among others. So, we have rules we adhere to besides maintaining sanitation and hygiene.”

Aum Zangmo, vendor, said they are planning to seek support from the government for possibilities of constructing food stalls. “Thromde allowed the vendors to operate fast foods business taking into consideration our economic backgrounds.

“The number of street vendors is increasing, there is a huge concern for sanitation and hygiene,” she said. “Hence, we have asked BAFRA officials to regulate and monitor these vendors in maintaining proper hygiene and waste management.”

However, Lyonchhen said that the government has no rules and regulations for vendors to sell foodstuff or timing to sell and placement. “You can sell foodstuff anywhere where business is lucrative but ensure that you clean up your place at the end of the day,” he said.  

Acknowledging the problems that vendors face, the Prime Minister said the vendors still do not manage their waste properly. “If you start a zero waste hours once a week or a month, I ensure to support you all through Thromde or BAFRA,” Lyonchhen said.

Kinley Yonten from Thimphu