KHULNA: Pedestrians face disruption while walking through the footpaths in Khulna city. Many footpaths of the city, are seen full of vendors and makeshift shops.
City residents said that they suffered as they could not use footpaths as hawkers and other traders, illegal parking and construction materials encroached on footpaths.
Traders and hawkers have built up permanent structures selling fruits, vegetables, fish, cosmetics, cloths, shoes and various food items, alleged Member Secretary of Khulna Nagorik Samaj Advocate Babul Hawlader. Even roadside restaurants and grocery shops occupy a large portion of the footpath, he further said.
Besides, the number of mobile hawkers has increased alarmingly in the city, those who are now seen selling their products by commissioning makeshift shops at important points in the city. As a result, mostly the common people are being the worst victim of exhausting and time consuming traffic jam.
While visiting different city areas including Picture Palace intersection, Dak-Bunglow More, Clay Road, a portion of Sir Iqbal Road, KD Ghosh Road, a portion of Cemetery Road, West Mekot Road, Ful Market crossing, Sher-e-Bangla road, Moylapata More, Gallamari More, Sonadanga Bus Stand intersection, BL College More, Daulatpur Babi stand, Phulbari gate crossing, Phultala Bazaar on Wednesday, it was found that hawkers and vendors occupied the footpaths and commissioned their make-shift shops, leaving no space for the movements of pedestrians.
Owners of these makeshift shops said that they are doing business on footpaths and walkways with permission from officials of KCC, Police department and some leaders of ruling party. Requesting anonymity, a makeshift garment ware shop owner said that he and other shop owners pay money to Police and KCC officials’ everyday for doing business.
We pay ‘tips’ for encroaching footpaths and walkways. So, we are not afraid of eviction drives, said Shafiqur Rahman who runs a makeshift hotel on footpath at KD Ghosh Road just few yards away from Khulna Sadar thana and BNP Khulna city office.
Requesting anonymity, an elderly hawker of Dak-Bunglow More said, “I have been running my business here for 13 to 16 years. The government evicted vendors from footpaths and streets when they came to power. But the ruling party leaders allowed the roadside vendors to run their business again, raising toll from them.”
General Secretary of Awami League Khulna city unit MDA Babul Rana denied allegation of blessing for encroachers by any one of ruling party. Awami League will extend active cooperation to KCC in evicting encroachers if mayor sincerely desires so, Babul Rana added.
Mayor of KCC Talukdar Abdul Khaleq said that the corporation is the custodian of the footpaths and it has the right to evict the hawkers any time. “We have conducted regular eviction drives as per court directives but the hawkers came back after a few days,” he added.
Sources said there are around 3 to 5 thousand hawkers in the city who bear their livelihood through commissioning makeshift shops on footpaths and streets.
As there is no specific place in the city to run their business, the hawkers sell their goods on streets and footpaths which make severe gridlocks in the city, resulting to the increased number of pick-pocketing, snatching, mugging and other crimes in the city.
Although traffic police are deployed at different busy points but they most often fail to control the unruly rickshaw-pullers and battery-run easy-bike drivers. Hardly anybody can reach the destination in scheduled time on account of serious traffic congestions at the busy points in the city.