Saturday, February 22, 2020 | ePaper

DCCs must make footpaths hawker-free

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NO MEASURES are yet taken to shift the hawkers from footpaths. They are running their business on footpaths in a damn care mood getting patronisation from a section of law enforcement agency members and ruling party activists. The drives conducted by city corporations with the help of police for evicting hawkers from temporary footpath shops went in vain. It is true that both the city authorities, Dhaka north and south, have failed to free the footpaths for pedestrians. It's a regular phenomenon that city's busiest areas' footpaths remain clogged by hawkers from dawn to midnight resulting in serious trouble to the pedestrians. We think, it's nothing but a drama. The eviction drives are planned so poorly that hawkers usually return hours after being removed. When the extortion economy of footpath is about Tk 1000 crore annually so, the rule of hawkers occupying footpaths is evident.
They get hold of almost half of the 420-kilometre stretch of footpath in the capital city setting up makeshift structures haphazardly on the pavement blocking the public movement. The people are compelled to walk on the busy road obstructing free vehicular movement that ultimately causes traffic congestion. In fact, it is one of the major causes why pedestrians face accidents at a high rate in Dhaka. Approximately five lakh hawkers earn bread and butter from footpath business. And a large number of middle and lower-middle-class people literally depend on them for affordable goods ranging from grocery items to home appliances. So, only eviction cannot be a sustainable option for clearing pavements. It needs a long-term rehabilitation programme. Rehabilitating only a few listed hawkers under political consideration won't end this anomaly.
We admit that forceful eviction will put some one million people, hawkers and their dependents, in distress. Here, regulating their business following the process of other developed countries could bring a solution to the long-standing problem.

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