The promises of the West Java governor and deputy governor-elect pair regarding the provision of jobs are a great hope for all West Java residents, namely the hope of getting a better life with a good job as well. Good jobs are assumed not only in the formal sector, but also in the informal sector.
Since the 1970s, the informal work sector has been known by the public as a sector that does not receive local government support, is not officially registered, and operates outside local government regulations. Automatically local government support will be directed to the formalization of this sector. This approach also assumes that the only impediment to the growth of the informal sector is the negative attitude of the local government towards this sector. Therefore, local government support is considered to be a guarantee of success. This ignores the complex competition and the unequal relationship between small and large businesses as well as various monopoly strategies to suppress small business competition.
Informal activities are ways of doing things that are characterized as easy entry, relying on local resources, family-owned businesses, small-scale operations, labor-intensive and adapted technology, skills acquired outside the formal school system, and unregulated and competitive markets. Thus, there is a tendency to equate the urban informal sector with the urban poor. In fact, not all who work in the informal sector are poor, and vice versa. The informal sector in West Java which is often considered a marginalized community includes street vendors (PKL), pedicab drivers, people with disabilities, parking attendants, buskers and street children, market traders and commercial sex workers. Referring to the definition of the informal sector, these various communities, except for persons with disabilities, are included in the urban informal sector.
The problem of street vendors requires a deeper and fundamental change than simply providing cheap credit, skills training and technical assistance to certain informal sector enterprises. Changes in vertical links have been minimal, such as local government regulations and institutional relationships affecting small firms. Every policy must pay attention to the whole system, not just the lower part of the hierarchy. This is because street vendors in West Java have characteristics.
First, the economic aspect, street vendors are small-scale economic activities with relatively minimal capital. The access is open so that it is easy for new businesses to enter, local consumers with middle to lower incomes, simple technology/no technology, limited business networks, and business activities managed by one person or family business with a relatively traditional management pattern. In addition, the types of commodities traded tend to be non-durable commodities, such as food and beverages.
Second, the socio-cultural aspect. Most of the perpetrators have low education and are migrants (migrant) with a large number of household members. They also live in slums.
Third, the environmental aspect, paying little attention to cleanliness and being located in a place with heavy traffic. The number of street vendors has allegedly continued to increase from year to year due to the high rate of urbanization and limited employment in the formal sector.
The failure of the policies and programs of the West Java regional government in developing street vendors is related to various things, such as:
1. The local government’s approach is still supply-side oriented (regulation, arrangement, and assistance to street vendors is carried out without communicating and cooperating with the street vendors themselves).
2. The implementation of policies/programs for street vendors is laden with the involvement of various “coaching” officials.
3. Ordering and controlling street vendors is based more on local government involvement in project implementation than on the spirit of building the informal sector as one of the bases of the people’s economy.
Concrete things that can be seen as a result of these various things are the difficulties for street vendors to access capital/credit provided by the local government, few street vendors have participated in business coaching due to the lack of socialization by the local government regarding this program, and refusal to relocate. The end of Jalan Cikutra-Ahmad Yani around Pasar Cicadas, Bandung, has always been busy with food vendors such as martabak, combro, toast and grilled chicken. The location shift experienced by market traders causes a loss of customers. Losing customers for merchants is considered a fundamental problem.
Collaboration of Street Vendors
Based on the various characteristics, problems, and failures of local government policies/programs in dealing with these street vendors, the author recommends a model for developing the informal sector for street vendors through cooperation with street vendors, the private sector, and the local government. The initiative to form an organization in a business location came from the street vendors themselves.
Providing capital from the private sector and/or local government can be done through street vendors organizations (cooperatives, trade groups, etc.) or separately to street vendors who are not part of this forum. Then, through local government policies, they provide protection, guidance and guidance to every street vendor, both members and non-members. Conducive policies are the main basis so that the street vendors informal sector development model can achieve the expected goals. The author divides the policy into two levels, namely at the macro and micro levels.
Macro policies can be in the form of local government recognition and protection of the existence of this sector in urban areas. What is urgent to be done is to change the local government’s policy climate from one that is elitist to a non-elite populist one. Non-elitist policies can be realized by strengthening legal aspects of protection for street vendors, improving institutions and administration in a non-bureaucratic direction, and facilitating street vendors’ access to available economic resources.
At the micro level, efforts are needed to link the productivity and income levels of street vendors. The way that can be taken is to increase the economic efficiency of the street vendors’ businesses, increase the production of trading businesses, and increase the street vendors’ businesses that are less potential to become more potential businesses.