Sunday,18 November, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1391, (26 April - 2 May 2018)
Sunday,18 November, 2018
Issue 1391, (26 April - 2 May 2018)

Ahram Weekly

Anyone for fuul?

Street food vendors hope new regulations will make their life easier, reports Ahmed Morsy

Anyone for fuul?
Anyone for fuul?

Leave home without breakfast? Ask anyone where the nearest cart selling fuul is. There is sure to be one close by, crowded with people. Yet most of these carts are illegal. Every now and then they are chased by the authorities, and the carts can be confiscated. 

This is about to change. On Sunday MPs approved amendments to Law 140/1956 submitted by the government which allow mobile food and beverage carts to be licensed.

A new article will be added allowing local administrations to issue renewable temporary permits. It will be up to governors or the head of the relevant authorities to determine where food carts can operate, and how many will be allowed at the designated sites.

“When applying for a permit the applicant will pay an annual fee not exceeding LE20,000 according to the place, road, nature of the occupancy and activity... The permit will be issued to a named individual and cannot be transferred to a third party without the consent of the issuing authority,” says the law.

“The authority that issued the permit may rescind it… In the case of violations the authority will issue a reasoned decision to cancel it.” 

Food and drinks carts are not new in Egypt, but they have always operated in a legal grey area. 

“Before the law these carts were treated as illegal because they operate without a licence. The cart and everything could be confiscated and would only be released when the owner paid a fine,” Mustafa Abdel-Aziz, head of East Nasr City district, told Al-Ahram Weekly

“The new law sets legal standards which will facilitate our work and allow us a degree of flexibility in dealing with these mobile businesses.”

The executive regulations of the law, which should be issued within a month, will determine the details of implementation and how individuals apply for a licence.

MP Mamdouh Al-Husseini, a member of parliament’s Local Administration Committee, said during a telephone interview with Al-Mehwar satellite channel that food carts have hitherto operated outside government supervision and were potential health hazards. Now the carts can be checked for basis hygiene, and applicants for licences can be screened.

Mohamed Hamdi Al-Sayed, owner of two fuul carts in Nasr City, hopes the law will provide a safer working environment and end “harassment by municipal authorities”.

“In the past my carts have been confiscated and sometimes damaged. Each time a cart is confiscated I have to pay LE250 to LE350 to get it back. When the new law is implemented I will feel secure enough to concentrate on developing my business,” says Al-Sayed.

But Al-Sayed, who employs 13 people on his two carts, worries that the licensing fee may be set too high, and is concerned that the process of obtaining a licence may prove complicated. 

Mohamed, 28, owns an orange juice cart. To avoid any trouble with the authorities he would regularly change his pitch, usually every week. 

“Staying in the same place attracts more customers since they know where to find you,” said Mohamed. “Yet I had to move to avoid attracting the attention of the authorities.”  

“Hopefully the changes will facilitate my work and make it more comfortable. When they begin implementing the law I will apply for a licence. I’m married and need a stable source of income.” 

Ahmed, 22, sells hot drinks from a concerted Volkswagon beetle. “I work with a couple of friends on this cart. It’s our small project,” he says. 

Though they have only been working for two months Ahmed complains officials have “come to us more than once threatening us to confiscate the car if we didn’t move”. The new licensing arrangements should, he hopes, put an end to such threats. 

Ahmed is hoping “applying for licences is a simple procedure, and they are issued fairly, without any nepotism.”

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