Peoplespeak:Give us space to walk, give them place to hawk

In Kathmandu, the street vendors have been creating problems for pedestrians, especially for those who have just come to Kathmandu with luggage. Cases of robbery and theft have been reported in such crowded places. Have these footpaths been made for the pedestrians, or for street vendors? Mostly Asan, New Road, Sundhara and Ratnapark areas are so crowded that it is nearly impossible to walk in the evenings. In addition, they throw waste products everywhere polluting the beautiful city. How can we think of attracting tourists to such a dirty place? The street vendors should think of keeping the city clean. The government should assign them a certain area for their business. If they are allowed to do business for certain hours, they will demand more and more time, and the problem will never be solved.

— Laxman Prasad Bhandari, Butwal

It is high time now that we reinitiated the ‘go back to village’ campaign previously introduced. Many street vendors are lured by the income generated by these petty business. They do not have to pay any rent nor business/industry taxes levied by the government. As a consequence, the country is losing some revenue which could have been used for development projects. The best solution for the moment is not to make any new arrangements for the vendors but to send them back to their respective places. They should be first addressed and given priority and encouraged to return to their homes. This can be difficult but not impossible as everyone has love towards their homes. This could also help lessen the population density in the metropolis providing each and every person a better and healthier lifestyle.

— Binita

The vendors’ claim that they have been left jobless by the action taken by the authorities is absolutely groundless. They do not have the right to violate rules and orders in order to earn a living. There are other options they can choose as means of earning their livelihood. Selling goods unlawfully on the streets and other places intended for different purposes is not the act of a civilised and law-abiding citizen. Obviously, what the vendors were doing was unwise, unlawful and senseless act which created unbearable inconveniences to pedestrians and others. The authorities concerned have taken the wise and bold action for which, I think, the majority people are happy. In my opinion, the vendors should not be allowed to sell their products even for a certain fixed hours of the day. Would it be a wise decision to deliberately make a tiny hole on the wall of a dam just to let the overflowing water through? And though the idea to assign a certain area for their business seems practical and wise, still a question arises: For how many vendors can this provision be provided considering that they grow in numbers day by day?

— Hari Kumar Rai, Nayabazar

Finally the government has announced a ban on pavement business, which is indeed a positive step towards the management of the highly polluted footpaths of the Capital. The narrow footpaths are over crowded because the vendors display their goods covering almost half the path forcing the pedestrians to dodge each other while trying not step on the goods. We have also seen that a majority of these vendors, upon seeing a foreigner or someone from the countryside, force her/him to buy their product no matter what the price. This malpractice had to be banned long ago. Better late than never, so the government’s step has to be applauded. But this rule has also left thousands of vendors with no means of earning a livelihood. More than 75 per cent of these vendors are displaced families hailing from remote areas. So, the government should allocate an area large enough to accommodate hundreds of vendors to sell their goods only for a certain specified time of the day/week.

— Tilak Poudel, California, US

In my opinion, the government should assign a certain area to vendors for their business. By doing this, it will be beneficial for both the pedestrians and vendors alike. It’ll be easy for pedestrians to walk freely. It will also be beneficial for vendors, as they will be able to earn money for their livelihood instead of sitting idle.

— Sushobhit Pokharel

The pedestrians are obviously going to be happy with this act of the authorities as it is highly inconvenient to walk on the footpaths with vendors selling their stuff. But the impact of this act on the vendors and their families cannot be neglected as well. They will find themselves with no apparent means to cope with the unexpected unemployment. Allowing them to sell products on the footpaths for fixed hours, however, will only prove to be a temporary solution. So, the ultimate remedy would be to provide the vendors with a certain area for their business which would ensure stability in their lives.

— Shraddha Manandhar

Vendors cannot afford the  rent of shutters, they are hawking their wares on the streets. Our government should bring a special package to cater to these vendors. The government is responsible for the unemployment in our nation and are now disturbing the people from carrying on with their self-made businesses. As a citizen I feel that the government should manage this problem pragmatically keeping in mind the plight of the vendors.

— Mingma Sherpa, Besigaon

If you look at it from one angle, it’s very good to see people walk freely on the streets, while on the other it’s said to see people with no means to make a living. So, there comes a problem along with this decision, and some positive efforts will be also highlighted. On the whole, I think the vendors should be assigned a certain area for their business in order to balance the whole situation.

— Alisha 

Yes, the pedestrians are frustrated, the authorities are concerned and the vendors have been banned. But to make a fair decision, it’s important to step into the involved parties’ shoes and see through their eyes. If the government fails to look into the interest of all, it would be no less a tyranny than it would be willed ignorance. Wouldn’t the government be better off if it designates certain areas for street trade until they can figure out a permanent solution? How about designing a plan which requires all street business holders to resister their business and gain a licence; this way the government could have the vendors pay some amount of taxes for leasing the streets and at the same time use the fund for the development of infrastructure. The government could also build a trading centre for the street vendors to rent at convenient rates and have them relocated there.

— Name withheld

Kathmandu is a city of dreams with promises of opportunities for all, but luck to only some. And the street vendors are the unfortunate few. Authorities have made a wise move but unemployment of these vendors is a matter of concern. The easiest way out is to allot certain market areas that are less prone to traffic jam and permit them to sell their products for a routine time. Certification of these vendors and nominal taxation should also be imposed to stop the rent paying shopkeepers from suffering from a feeling of unfairness. A large underprivileged population benefits from the products sold by these vendors, and so we should handle this problem wisely and ethically.

— Nishant Shandilya, Baluwatar

Street vendors should be assigned a separate area so that they can eke out their living. If the government assigns a fixed place for them, it will  be easy for customers to buy what they want, and our city will look more beautiful too.

— Rebati Adhikary, Nepaltar

Removing street vendors from the streets has come as a relief for the pedestrians. But it has been a disaster for the vendors. The proper solution would be for the government to provide a certain area for the vendors to run their business. Allowing the them to sell products on streets for fixed hours might an alternative solution, but due to the narrow and crowded streets, this would not be the best option.

— Nimes

It’s a good decision not allowing vendors to hawk on footpaths. It had also been a root cause of the traffic jams and accidents in the city. On the other hand, this problem has led to skyrocketing unemployment. A special area must be allocated for the vendors to sell their goods. There must be a provision for paying limited tax to the government for using that area. If this sort of Act is brought to practice, then the vendors can promote their business and their way of living won’t be at stake. The pedestrians will also benefit as well.

— Aagya Dahal, Kathmandu

This act of government has benefited the pedestrians. They don’t have to walk on the sides of the road where vehicles are moving. So, chances of accidents as well as traffic jams will minimise. And the most important thing is that this act has saved valuable ‘time’ of the city dwellers. But the street vendors have been left with no means to earn their living. So, the government should dole out an area for their business and the vendors should pay a fixed tax to the government. In this way, both the pedestrians and the street vendors will benefit.

— Bibha Dahal, Kathmandu

The government has chosen the right path to reduce traffic jams in the city, but as usual it is only half-planned. The pedestrians and vehicle users have breathed a sign of relief, but what about the vendors? They are also citizens of our country and should also have their right to earn their living. A desired place should be separated for them to carry on their business.

— Sarthak Khatiwada, Budanilakantha

We have already faced similar problems trying to clear the footpaths. So, we should think of long-term solution. That would be providing a certain area to them and create an environment that does not encourage misuse of the footpaths. We can also see that shutter holders keep their goods in front of their shops and also occupy the footpath and streets too. This should also stop because it encourages footpath vendors.

— Bikram Man Shrestha, Baneshwor

Walking along an empty street without any street vendors sure feels good. But I feel awful to know this comfort is because of thousands of people being jobless.These people though engaged illegally, manage their livelihood through the very same means. So, I feel they should be assigned a certain area to continue their business.

— Manish K Malla

Street vendors occupy large areas of footpaths forcing pedestrians to walk on the sides of streets leading to traffic jams mostly during office hours.This has also led to many accidents. The act of the authorities to remove street vendors is good, but the vendors should be assigned a certain area for their business.

— Subha Dahal

Though this act of the authorities is admirable, it is not well planned. They should have planned well about the alternative ways for the street vendors to earn their livelihood. Now, it will be better for all if the authorities provide a certain area to them. It will neither make the streets crowded, and customers too will find such stuff in a certain place.

— Bikram Neupane, Naikap

The authorities have made a nice move, but not a sound one. While implementing this rule, one should also have thought about its outcome. It could have been better if authorities would have come up with substitutes to the street vendors while spelling this rule instead of vendors coming into action on the streets and forcing the authorities for job alternatives. I think assigning a certain area to vendors for their business would be a good alternative as this would make their job permanent.

— Stuti Rana, Kathmandu

Nepal is facing a major problem of unemployment. The street vendors are managing their earnings somehow, but footpaths are not the place for selling things. Pedestrians are facing problems due to this. There is no space for the ‘foot’ in the ‘footpath’. As a result, people walk on sides of roads causing traffic jams. Vendors should realise they are not following the rules. It would be a good idea to allot an area for street vendors which can be a solution for both pedestrians and them.

— Prabin Bhattarai

Each coin has two sides. In the same way, the decision regarding eviction of street vendors has two side effects. It is good for pedestrians whereas the vendors were smacked badly. Being responsible for every citizen, our leaders should also have to look into the other side of the coin and that’s where they missed out. If decision regarding eviction of vendors could have come up, an alternative should also be thought of, then it would have been more effective. After all, you cannot leave them like that. There are people who have been doing that business for last 8-10 years and suddenly someone stops them. I think this is not an effective way of managing things. The government should have given them an alternative, if not at least a month to clear out their stocks. I think a certain area should be assigned for their business if we are looking for a long term solution. But again this will need more time, so before assigning them a proper area, they should be allowed to sell for certain fixed hours of the day for the time being.

— Pabitra Shakya

It will be a shame if the government spells doom for vendors after insuring right to employment in the Interim Constitution of Nepal 2063 BS. It will be a breather if they are be allowed to hawk in a certain area, but business may not run smoothly. So, like in the haat bazaars of villages, two days a week should be allocated for doing business in the open space in the heart of city.

— Akrur Nath Sharma

The footpaths are meant for pedestrians. Allowing street vendors to operate their business even for a certain hour of the day is out of question because pedestrians have to use the footpaths at all hours. Therefore, assigning a certain area which does not disrupt the pedestrians is in the best interest of both the vendors and the pedestrians. This not only helps the pedestrians breathe a sigh of relief but, also helps in maintaining an organised city.

— Kreeti Bhandari