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Hoteliers, restaurants and shop-owners up in arms over street vendors taking up kerbsides

GRTU and MHRA: ‘Street vendors turn Malta’s prime sites into flea markets’

Matthew Vella
21 February 2017, 12:00pm
The GRTU want stricter enforcement on street vendors that do not have hawking permits. Photo shows a legal hawker on Ordnance Street speaking to a police officer.
The GRTU want stricter enforcement on street vendors that do not have hawking permits. Photo shows a legal hawker on Ordnance Street speaking to a police officer.
The Small Business Chamber (GRTU) and the Malta Hotels & Restaurants Association (MHRA) wants local councils and the central government to hold back on what it said was a “disruptive and illegal practice” allowing street vendors to set up their stalls on Republic Street, Valletta’s main commercial artery.

“Local councils issuing any permits that go beyond those of the village feast are doing so abusively,” the GRTU said, echoing complaints from establishment owners who say they already pay high rents for their businesses to set up shop in Republic Street.

“We’re concerned that anyone who wishes to start selling anything to just set up a stall at a place of their choosing and start trading. This is turning even Malta’s main street, Republic Street, into a flea market. It seems that street vendors can set up their stalls in the best areas, without any sanitary, health, safety or other standards, in some cases only a few meters away from established outlets who have to face a myriad of very costly regulations and other fees,” the GRTU said.

The Sliema local council, which has said it does not issue such permits, has said it is inundated by complaints from the commercial community. 

The GRTU said that Sliema mayor Anthony Chircop had complained of a lack of enforcement against individuals without any street hawking permit, which permit is used outside the strict parameters that regulate street hawkers, including distance from other commercial establishments.

“Our enterprises invest millions of euros to make Malta an attractive destination, a destination of high calibre. Their investment is being devalued by the vendors that occupy our roads and litter our prime sites abusively for their gain without the least consideration for the damage done to the country and other law abiding business people,” the GRTU said.

“The country’s enforcement system continues to fail us and burden the legitimate businesses with inspections and heavy regulations whilst turning a blind eye to the street traders trading unlawfully and turning our island into one gigantic flea market. GRTU and MHRA call in government to take action now to remove these street traders from our prime sites and ensure they are adhering to regulations.”

Matthew Vella is executive editor at MaltaToday.
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