'Footpaths belong to people' | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 01, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 05:25 AM, January 01, 2018

'Footpaths belong to people'

N'ganj Mayor Ivy shows no sign of bowing down to hawkers' ongoing agitation for withdrawal of eviction drive

With hawkers' demonstration continuing for the seventh consecutive day yesterday in Narayanganj city, Mayor Selina Hayat Ivy is adamant that she will not allow the hawkers to sit on the footpaths again.  

On December 25, Narayanganj City Corporation launched a wide-scale drive to clear the city footpaths from hawkers in a bid to ensure free movement of pedestrians. In continuation, the eviction drive was conducted on Mir Jumla Road yesterday morning, said Officer-in-Charge (OC) of Narayanganj Sadar Model Police Station (Operations ) Joynal Abeden.

He said they have been instructed not to allow hawkers on the footpaths.

Though the footpaths have been cleared, the evicted hawkers have been demonstrating since then in an apparent move to persuade the city corporation to reconsider the decision.

However, Ivy said she will not bow down to the hawkers' demand. "Footpaths belong to people," she emphasised.   

Yesterday, a hawkers' platform -- District Hawkers Action Council -- organised an agitation programme at Chashara Shaheed Minar. Later, it held another programme in front of the Nagar Bhaban. The platform's convener Asadul Islam Asad presided over both the programmes.

Bangladesh Trade Union Centre (TUC) president Hafizul Islam, Bangladesh Hawkers Union Central adviser Hazrat Ali, Samajtantrik Sramik Front General Secretary Selim Mahmud, TUC Narayanganj district committee General Secretary Bimal Kanti Das, Jatiya Sramik Federation Narayanganj district president Hafizur Rahman spoke in the programmes.

After the rallies, the hawkers submitted a memorandum to Mayor Ivy. In the memorandum, they said over 4,000 hawkers have been running businesses on different footpaths in  the city while about 15,000 people are dependent on their income.

"Taking people's sufferings into consideration, we have been running the businesses on footpaths after 5:00pm during weekdays and full-day during weekends and holidays," according to the memorandum.

However, a city corporation official said this is a blatant lie as the hawkers used to run business occupying the footpaths from morning.

In the memorandum, the hawkers also appealed to the city corporation authorities to withdraw the eviction drive.

Throughout the last seven days, the hawkers held rallies to press home their demand. They earlier submitted a memorandum to the deputy commissioner. They also met ruling Awami League lawmaker Shamim Osman.

Shamim Osman advised them to meet Mayor Ivy first, said hawkers. BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia's adviser Taimur Alam Khandker and district CPB president Hafizul Islam spoke in favour of them, claimed the hawkers. 

Contacted, Ivy acknowledged that she had received the memorandum. She said no political leaders did anything for the welfare of the hawkers.

Around six years back, under her instruction a market was built to rehabilitate 675 hawkers on humanitarian grounds, said Ivy. 

But, instead of going there, the hawkers have again come back to the footpaths, halting pedestrians' free movement, she said. 

Though Mayor Ivy is hell-bent to evict hawkers from the footpaths, she assured that she would consult with the district administration and police administration to find an alternative way out. 

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