Are Hawkers congesting Shillong?

From our sisterly website Shillong Daily

There is much to talk about when it comes to hawkers in our town and many have argued that they are a ‘problem.’ But are they really? Or are they just part of the same screwed up system everyone else is stuck in?

With the state government (Congress-ruling majority) not providing the necessary development plans they’re supposed to in all parts of the state, it is only natural that people of different walks of life will seek out any form of gainful employment opportunity in the city.

Horse-Shoe Building, Shillong
Road from Horse-Shoe building up to Malki Point where no footpath can be seen

After all, aren’t hawkers people coming from all over the state who arrive at Shillong trying to make a living and perhaps earn a meal a day for themselves and their children?

If the State Government is serious about “FIXING” the hawkers situation, then shouldn’t it be about developing all other parts of the State of Meghalaya and not just concentrate in this small imploding Shillong “city”?

All Saints' School, Shillong
Road between All Saints’ School and Horse-Shoe Building, again with no footpaths

Wouldn’t having better educational setups and developing local markets and expanding local produce be the way of reducing the influx of migrant workers to Shillong?

The Government’s lazy attitude towards “development” (a word we must use with extreme precaution) is the sole responsible reason behind the rush to the state’s capital for the daily needs of a daily wage earner.

MPSC building
Big hole in the path of the cemented steps near MPSC building

There have been reports and talks (as there usually are) on the government providing a space for these street vendors and hawkers but the nature and location of the space needs to be investigated because it is not only about relocation but doing so to a place which has commercial activity and one which is physically suitable for the kind of businesses hawkers are engaged in.

DTO Office, Shillong
Near DTO office where there is ample space for parking but not enough space for footpath

Hence, although provision of a “space” can perhaps ease the congestion of some hawkers as they can sell their goods and produce peacefully in the provided market space for them but, not all hawkers can be placed in these spaces as the product/produce/items they sell need to be in areas where traffic constantly moves.

Civil Hospital Junction
Zebra Crossing – Civil Hospital Junction

Lately, in certain local newspapers, some people have been questioning the right of hawkers over the footpaths in comparison to right of pedestrians to walk freely in the said footpaths.

Although there is no disagreements to the right of free space to walk, yet a few other questions need to be answered as well by the same people who question the right of hawkers to sell their goods and produce.

Don Bosco, Shillong
Stretch from Don Bosco to DHS, Laitumkhrah where no footpath is available for School Children.

If as they say, certain areas where hawkers sell their goods are a nuisance to the pedestrians walking, then what about the many roads in the streets of Shillong that are without footpaths?

Narrow Footpath From Lower LaChaumiere To Dhanketi
‘Double Parking’ In Congested Spaces, LaChaumiere
No Zebra Crossing Seen At The ‘Fast And Furious’ IGP Road

Do they not have an issue with non-availability of designated pedestrian walking zones? It is incredibly easy to point our fingers at the already marginalized hawker community instead of thinking holistically and comprehensively about the various factors which contribute to the supposed crisis of congested and polluted Shillong.

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Roney Lyndem Written by:

Roney Lyndem works as counsellor and organises workers for Thma U Rangli Juki (TUR)

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