KMC officials argue that the mushrooming small businesses on narrow sidewalks are endangering both the vehicles and pedestrian traffic.
KATHMANDU, July 6: Street vendors, hawkers and small-time traders have urged the government to designate them a place to carry on their business in the backdrop of a massive crackdown launched by the Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC).
Following multiple futile efforts to clear streets off vendors and hawkers, the Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) last week intensified crackdown on the small businesses "that are causing inconvenience to pedestrians and road traffic". KMC officials argue that the mushrooming small businesses on narrow sidewalks are endangering both the vehicles and pedestrian traffic.
“The police chase us regularly. I get injured frequently because of the stampede. It would be good if the government arranged some place for us to continue our businesses,” said Sarita Koirala, who sells items on a nanglo on Sundhara sidewalk. Koirala, 60, earns around Rs 300 each day selling cigarettes and candies. She uses the money to pay her rent and buy two meals a day.
Notwithstanding several measures taken by the authorities in the recent years, there has been a marked rise in the number of small businesses on Kathmandu sidewalks.
KMC officials said that they are taking stern measures to end the widespread encroachment of public space. Lately, the KMC has stopped returning goods and stalls seized from roadside vendors. They instead auction the confiscated goods, according to KMC officials.
Street vendors say they have no option but to sell goods on the roadside because they cannot afford to rent a permanent space. They say that they would be happy to clear the streets if the government makes an alternative arrangement.
Sunil Aryal, 40, a father of two, said that his family of four would go hungry if the government bans roadside vendors. "I am already old to join public service and private jobs are hard to come by," said Aryal.
KMC officials have made Sundhara, Ratnapark, and New Road area the main target of their ongoing campaign against street vendors.
The city police deployed by KMC remove the vendors by force and siege their goods. Previously, vendors would be fined and their goods would be returned in thirty days. But officials said this approach didn't work because the vendors would return to the streets again.
Deputy Superintendent of Police Bishnu Joshi says that the goods are now confiscated and auctioned. They resorted to this harsher method under the belief that the vendors would not return to the streets again.Joshi said that such vendors were stripping the general public of their rights. “Forcing pedestrians to walk on the road by crowding the sidwalks is a crime. The roadside vendors are endangering the lives of pedestrians," he added. However, when asked if the KMC has any plan for alternative arrangement for the vendors, his answer was negative.