Kathmandu, September 21
Despite Kathmandu Metropolitan City’s frequent crackdowns on street vendors, they continue to sell goods occupying the footpaths in the core city areas.
In May last year, the Municipal Executive had barred street vendors from selling any goods encroaching footpaths. It had also introduced the rule to confiscate the goods of the street vendors if they were found encroaching on footpaths and roadsides.
Despite such rules, scores of street vendors are seen doing businesses in areas such as RNAC, New Road, Sundhara area, Ratnapark and Bhotahiti in the evening. Such encroachment significantly hinders hassle-free mobility of pedestrians and compels them to walk on the busy roads risking their lives. These are the areas from where KMC had successfully removed all street vendors last year.
The footpaths of other major city areas such as Baneshwor, Koteshwor, Chabahil, Maharajgunj, Balaju, Naya Bazaar, are also occupied by hundreds of such vendors. Spillover of pedestrians onto roads due to footpath encroachment is a common sight in these areas.
While the metropolis is hell-bent on removing street vendors, hundreds of people involved in this business find it an effective way to earn bread and butter for their family.
Sarita Lamsal, 43, of Dolakha sells t-shirts and trousers on a pavement near RNAC putting a lot at stake. She knows that all her goods could be confiscated, but she has no other option for earning her keep.
Sarita, with a couple of other vendors, have deployed people to alert them if they see city police coming on rounds. “As soon as we get information about them, we pack our stuff and run away from there,” another street vendor told THT. They live in constant fear that police will fine them heavily and they will be left with nothing.
While for people like Sarita, it is a means of survival, the government seems to be indifferent towards their misery and hardship. DSP Dhanapati Sapkota, head of city police, said they were committed to removing street vendors from footpaths.
The major reason behind the KMC’s attempt to control the roadside business is to ease mobility of pedestrians and reduce the risk of road accidents. But, KMC has not given any effective alternatives to these street vendors to run their businesses.
Hari Kunwar, head of Department of Urban Good Governance of KMC, said selling goods on the footpath and littering public places was against the law and they would not allow street vendors to do so.
A version of this article appears in print on September 22, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.