Hawkers, street vendors see bleak future

Jannatul Islam

19th April, 2020 09:58:31 printer

Hawkers, street vendors see bleak future

Micro-entrepreneurs including hawkers and street vendors are bearing the brunt of countrywide lockdown that weighs heavily on them.

As people are virtually shut in their homes due to the coronavirus pandemic, the daily business of millions of vendors and street hawkers have come to a standstill, putting their lives at risk.

Dhaka Sangbadpatra Hawkers’ Bahumukhi Samabay Samity represents around 4.5 thousands newspaper hawkers in the capital while the number is around 15 thousands across the country.

Talking to daily sun, Sangbadpatra Hawkers Samity General Secretary Abdul Mannan said the newspaper hawkers are uncertain about their livelihoods due to the corona situation.

“It is really horrible for us. There are around 5 thousands newspaper hawkers active in the capital. Those who distribute 300 papers a day, they are now distributing 100 only as they are prohibited to enter different areas due to the general holidays,” Abdul Mannan shared the sorrow tales of newspaper hawkers.

He said the hawkers’ unions have continued their services braving the pandemic.

“Till now, many hawkers maintain their service on request. However, If the general holidays extend another ten or more days, many may leave their duty,” Mannan said.

He urged the government and news publishers to move together for the survival of the community.

Recently, Bashundhara Group, patron of East West Media Group, the largest media entity in the country, extended support to 2,000 newspaper hawkers, providing them with food items amid worsening corona virus situation in the country.

The group provided combo packets for the hawkers and also the essentials like rice, lentil, oil and flour. The people working under Dhaka Newspaper Hawkers Samity, Dhaka Newspaper Hawkers Welfare Samity, Bangladesh Newspaper Transportation Owners Association, Dhaka Patra Patrika Bitorankari Samity and Dhaka Bit Samity received the food aid.

Apart from the newspaper hawkers, there are around thousands of street vendors maintaining their livelihoods by setting up makeshift houses on 430 kilometres roadside space under the Dhaka City Corporation.

Development organisations—Power and Participation Research Centre and BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD) -- conducted a study where they mentioned that the fallout of corona virus infection has affected the income and jobs of the lower income people.

BIDG Executive Director Imran Matin said the unskilled and skilled workers have been contributing to informal economy. However, they are not at big risk of losing their livelihoods.

“In our country, the social safety net programme is very fragmented. And there is no coverage for street vendors, hawkers and other urban migrants. We should think about integrated policy to ensure sustainable livelihood for all,” Matin told daily sun.

Citing the recent study, the development professional further mentioned that 55 percent of skilled laborers are now passing a leisure time due to the holidays.

Income of the poor people of the cities has plunged by 82 percent while those in the villages by 79 percent. On average, the income of three types of poor has declined by 76 percent, according to the study.