• Wednesday, Oct 16, 2019
  • Last Update : 03:19 am

They’re called footpaths for a reason

  • Published at 12:01 am September 16th, 2019
Footpath
Photo: LATIF HOSSAIN

Dhaka’s streets have continued to fall victim to the encroachment of hawkers and street vendors

It appears that one of Dhaka’s long-standing problems is finally about to be solved.

For the longest time, footpaths in Dhaka have been occupied by illegal, small-time businesses -- such as hawkers and street vendors -- completely blocking the way for citizens in navigating the capital by foot.

Despite being a priority for both mayors, Dhaka’s streets have continued to fall victim to the encroachment of hawkers and street vendors, which are often backed by the protection of corrupt local law enforcers.

To that end, DNCC Mayor Atiqul Islam’s recent announcement of eviction drives to clear up the capital’s footpaths from September 25 comes as a welcome relief.

Not limited to being illegal, the practice of setting up shop on footpaths all but forces pedestrians to walk on the main roads -- which not only exacerbates the already unbearable traffic congestion but also puts lives at risk.

A comprehensive eviction drive on the footpaths would solve both these issues.

Of course, such an operation would also need to take into account the abject corruption that plagues the lower levels of our law enforcement and political hierarchy. The vendors often pay hefty amounts in bribes for protection, and the government needs to root out these problem elements and the power they hold on the streets.

Another step, then, would be to allow these makeshift shops to operate in a way that does not endanger the public. These people rely on their shops to earn their livelihoods, and thus should be provided alternative spaces for them to carry out their trade.

These spaces are called “footpaths” for a reason, and an operation to clear them up has been a long time coming -- one that we welcome wholeheartedly.