All previous mayors pledged to free footpaths from illegal encroachments but failed
Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) Mayor Atiqul Islam yesterday said the city corporation will start eviction drives in areas under its jurisdiction from September 20 aiming to recover city footpaths from illegal occupants.
“The drive against illegal encroachment on the footpaths will start from September 20. Footpaths will be free for pedestrian movements,” the mayor said while laying the foundation stone for the Shaheed Jayan Chowdhury Playground at Chairmanbari in Dhaka.
The mayor said he had spoken to the prime minister on the move and she welcomed the initiative.
Freeing Dhaka streets and footpaths from the clutches of hawkers have been a priority for all the mayoral aspirants in Dhaka, but all of them apparently failed.
Despite vigorous efforts by the city authorities and law enforcers, Dhaka footpaths and streets have always been found to be occupied by hawkers and street vendors and their makeshift shops.
Both Dhaka North and Dhaka South city authorities have periodically taken initiatives to free footpaths and streets from hawkers and street vendors, ensuring to free city walkways and streets from hawkers, trying to ensure the safety and ease the suffering of pedestrians.
As the hawkers are illegally occupying the public walkways, pedestrians are always forced to walk on the roads which raise the risks of accidents and adds to the already unbearable traffic congestion in such areas.
The hawkers have always threatened to resist eviction initiatives if they are not provided with proper rehabilitation.
DSCC officials conducted a drive to evict hawkers from the streets in Gulistan on October 27, 2016, which led to a violent clash between the hawkers and the city corporation officials. But the hawkers reoccupied the streets.
The High Court in February 2012 had asked the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) to clear footpaths and roads within 48 hours for the sake of easy movement of people and vehicles.The directive said: “Nobody will be allowed to occupy the roads and footpaths by keeping construction materials, rickshaw-vans, carts, cars, makeshift shops, etc, there.” The court had also asked for a progress report on complying with the order every 30 days, but that did not happen.
Sources said each of the hawker pays from Tk2-5 lakh to local musclemen or ruling party leaders just to set up little shops and daily tolls range from Tk200- 500 depending on the size of the shop.