Hawkers return to footpaths in style

Dhaka,  Wed,  20 September 2017
Published : 13 Mar 2017, 23:47:26

Hawkers return to footpaths in style

They apply techniques to flee quickly when eviction team arrives
Adnan Hossain Bhuiyan

Street vendors have returned to the footpaths and roadsides of the capital's Gulistan and adjacent areas with new techniques to dodge eviction drives often being conducted by the Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) mobile courts.

This time they occupied the footpaths keeping their goods in baskets, plastic sheets or movable steel structures so that those could be moved on bearing wheels, according to a spot account.

The hawkers made the arrangement to flee as fast as possible during any eviction drive.

Defying the city corporation directives to do business in alternative places, the hawkers apparently remain determined to continue with their businesses on the footpaths that affect free movement of the city dwellers.

Though the DSCC offered the listed hawkers to run alternative holiday market within stipulated time frames, the hawkers opposed the idea since the very beginning and demanded full rehabilitation before evicting them.

Bangladesh Hawkers' Union President Abdul Hashem Kabir told the FE that the city corporation moves were very much inhuman as the hawkers have no place to go while the alternative would not work for them.

About the holiday markets, he said the hawkers found very few customers in the holiday markets. As such, after office hours, they return to the spots again.

Mr Kabir said thousands of hawkers have already counted losses worth over a couple of millions of taka due to the frequent drives and demolition of the valuables.

A vendor, Abdur Rouf, sells apples and grapes containing in baskets.

"Whoever first sees police or mobile courts arriving in the area, he informs us for leaving the place," he said.

The hawkers open up their businesses again after the eviction team's leaving the place, he added.

However, the vendors of the area said some of them have already moved their businesses to the other parts of the city amid regular eviction drives being conducted by the DSCC.

The hawkers' leaders said further that they would stage a big demonstration programme under the banner of Bangladesh Hawker Sangram Parishad on March 29, protesting the ongoing DSCC move without rehabilitation plan.

DSCC Chief Estate Officer Mohammad Kamrul Islam Chowdhury said the hawkers have come up with new techniques to dodge the ongoing drives and confirm their illegal occupation of the footpaths again.

He said the authorities will conduct more drives on regular basis to free the footpaths for easy movement of the pedestrians.

On January 11, DSCC Mayor Sayeed Khokon had announced that the city corporation would not allow any hawker on footpaths and roadsides of the city's Gulistan and surrounding areas from January 15 to facilitate free movements of pedestrians during the office hours.

Following the announcement, three DSCC mobile courts with support from Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) started conducting frequent eviction drives against the hawkers.

As part of a rehabilitation plan, the DSCC has made a list of 2,502 hawkers to give them permission to continue business on one side of the footpaths in Gulistan area on working days from 6:30 pm and full day at DSCC-designated holiday markets on Friday and Saturday.

Meanwhile, the footpaths of Motijheel to Paltan via Baitul Mukarram Mosque have seen relatively free of hawkers due to eviction drives being conducted more frequently than that in Gulistan and Zero Point areas. According to DSCC authority, the mobile courts have evicted and demolished illegal establishments of nearly five to six thousand hawkers on the footpaths in Gulistan and adjacent areas up until now.

Editor : A.H.M Moazzem Hossain
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