Evicting hawkers from streets
The two Dhaka city corporations are set to clear footpaths from July 1. That the small-scale eviction drive in Gulistan on June 2 fizzled out was a foregone conclusion. Given that the street hawkers have no designated spaces to ply their trade, it is hardly surprising that after the cleanup drive in the morning the traders returned to the same place in the evening.
Yes, the ubiquity of thousands of hawkers and street peddlers poses an obstruction to traffic. Yet, one cannot overlook the fact that they provide citizens belonging to middle and lower income groups invaluable service by selling ware nearby, at prices they can afford.
The reason why such drives will prove ineffective is primarily because they deprive hundreds of thousands of people in the city of their livelihood. These traders have families to support.
They cannot be wished away by ad-hoc measures. The new mayors should have taken into consideration the consequences of such sudden eviction drives. If each major locality in the city has designated spaces and hours of the day for the hawkers and small traders to carry on their business, it would secure their livelihood as well as cater for middle and low income group buyers.
The bottom line is, first provide them with viable alternative locations and then, take actions against those who persist in their old ways. To this end, we need to stamp out petty bribery and the influence of vested groups.