Hawkers return to footpaths | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 13, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, August 13, 2008

Hawkers return to footpaths

Hawkers occupy a major portion of the footpath near Baitul Mukarram Mosque. Photo: STAR

Despite eviction drive hawkers continue to occupy a major part of the city's footpaths while contractors and traders keep construction materials on footpaths and roads, thanks to a lack of regular monitoring by the authorities concerned.
Dhaka City Corporation (DCC) and Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) are responsible for maintaining footpaths and dealing with hawkers but they failed to keep footpaths clear for smooth movement of pedestrians.
The government evicted hawkers from footpaths and rehabilitated them at some specific places but most of them have returned and occupied footpaths and roads again.
In Gulistan, New Market, Mirpur and several other areas hawkers are found doing business on footpaths and on rickshaw vans loaded with their merchandises, disrupting movement of pedestrians and vehicles.
The caretaker government rehabilitated the evicted hawkers at two holiday markets and 20 hawkers' markets at some specific spots but the plan virtually failed to achieve its goal of easing traffic congestion in the city.
The little number of markets and odd location of holiday and hawkers' markets could not prevent the hawkers from returning to the footpaths taking the advantage of little monitoring by the DCC and DMP.
Last week this correspondent found hawkers selling their products at the second gate of New Market, a restricted zone.
Using a rickshaw van as a shop on road, Shamsul Alam selling hosieries in Mirpur area said, “I was doing business on footpath near Bangabandhu Stadium before the eviction drive. I lost my capital during the eviction drive.”
Selling a piece of land he restarted his business. “The government allotted shops to the hawkers at different places but like many others I missed the opportunity and started business on this rickshaw van,” Alam said.
He said the police were very strict for some days after the eviction drive and setting up of hawkers' markets. Then he planned to do the business on a rickshaw van. “This van helps me cover more area and flee away fast from patrol police,” Alam explained.
On the 2km western pavement of Rokeya Sarani, from Mirpur- 10 crossing to Shewrapara bus stop, the reporter found a large number of hawkers doing business occupying the footpath and on rickshaw vans.
Selling of vegetables is totally banned on footpath markets but hundreds of hawkers were found on the pavements and on road in Pallabi.
According to DCC, the city has 388 km of footpaths. A survey conducted under the Strategic Transport Planning (STP) before the latest eviction drives revealed that about 40 percent of the footpaths is occupied by hawkers and with construction materials.
An official of the Estate Department of DCC said his department does not have any mechanism for monitoring the footpaths. "We just evict unauthorised occupants from the footpaths after getting report from the zone offices."
He said that Traffic Engineering Department has one road inspector for each zone who monitors situation of roads and footpaths in the city. The inspector might look after illegal occupation of the footpaths, he added.
Mohammad Jashimuddin, joint commissioner of DMP, said, police always try to keep footpaths clean but it is not an easy task. “We usually deploy forces on the rescued points of footpaths for preventing hawkers but how long we could do it?”
He pointed out that they cannot do it due to manpower shortage.
About construction materials kept on the roads and pavements, he said no massive drive has yet been conducted against this type of road occupancy.
About monitoring, he admitted that patrol police should monitor illegal possessions on footpaths but they are not monitoring properly.
He said the police can only drive away the occupiers temporarily from a spot but cannot free footpaths permanently. “It is a matter of public awareness too,” he added.

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