Freeing the pavements in Dhaka will greatly aid the city’s pedestrians
It is encouraging to see Dhaka North City Corporation Mayor Atiqul Islam stay true to his word about conducting eviction drives to free the capital’s footpaths.
For far too long, the people of Dhaka have not been able to walk freely on the city’s footpaths -- crowded by illegal establishments, small-time traders, and street hawkers -- and it is good to see that there is now a genuine attempt at fixing this long-standing problem.
However, while the approach to eradicating this problem is commendable to an extent -- the demolition of an illegally established party office in during the drive on Sunday providing hope that there will be no favouritism employed -- the issue runs deeper.
While the problems that the small-time businesses, vendors, hawkers, and establishments bring cannot be ignored, what also cannot be ignored is that they too are residents of this city, who see the footpaths as their means of sustenance.
There is also the existence of blatant corruption around these street establishments; the vendors often need to pay hefty bribes to maintain their trade.
To that end, what this points to is a deeper yet familiar problem, rooted in a lack of planning and strategy, for people who are compelled to carry out their trade on our footpaths for the sake of their survival.
Therefore, while freeing the pavements in Dhaka will greatly aid the city’s pedestrians, the onus is on the authorities to make sure that those who rely on these pavements for earning their daily bread are not treated as an afterthought and collateral.
While it’s good to see the administration tackle this issue with urgency, it also requires some level of diplomacy.