EDITORIAL: Street Vendors And Congested Roads

The dichotomy between street vendors and congested roads within Imphal city is not a new thing. The latest issue originated from allotment of vendor seats to some street vendors together with licensed vendors in the temporary market sheds.  The poignant point is, there have been many instances where ‘law enforcing authorities’ scattered goods of street vendors on which their livelihood depend fully. The central point of the new issue is not about driving away street vendors or scattering their goods, it is more about the authority’s failure to allot vendor seats to ‘genuine street vendors’.

Since many years back, the Chief Minister has been promising the street vendors would be given seats. If the promised arrangement is affected, everybody is hopeful that the problem of congestion around streets within Khwairamband Keithel can be ameliorated to a considerable extent. It is with this logic that the Government is working to allot seats to the street vendors at alternative sites where the street vendors would not pose any inconvenience to commuters. But the street vendors have been enraged by the same Government plan contending and anticipating that very few customers would come to Lamphel Shopping Complex for shopping. The street vendors have already made their stand clear saying that they would rather die than shift their business to Lamphel.

What is rather interesting is, contrary to the steadfast stand not to move away from Khwairamband Keithel, an unexpected problem about shortage of vendor seats at Lamphel Super Market has emerged today. It appears that the Government’s plan to reduce congestion and make Imphal city clean is nearing realization. But the pertinent question is, how long the authorities can check parking of vehicles along Paona Keithel road which was occupied by vehicles almost the half of its breadth a few days back.  Just as the initiative of removing street vendors is necessary, it is also equally important to prevent parking of vehicles on busy and congested streets of Imphal city. Whatever inconveniences entailed with these initiatives need to be accepted by the public for all these measures are targeted for public convenience.

What is worrisome at this juncture is, whether the Government’s initiative would not forfeit the only means of livelihood of those street vendors who are living hand to mouth, and whether it would not cause serious difficulties to the public due to prohibition of parking (of vehicles) along Paona Keithel Road. It is quite logical that markets may not be necessarily located within the busy Khwairamband Keithel. It is with this reasoning that street vendors started shifting to Lamphel followed by the unexpected problem of shortage of vendor seats. What is paramount at this point is establishment of basic amenities for the vendors who are compelled to stay the whole day at their sites as well as installment of necessary infrastructure so that people can enjoy some expediency, if not pleasure at the new site.

It is generally assumed, as the Chief Minister stated, that people would come once the vendors start their business at the new site, though it may take some time. On the other hand, what evokes people’s skepticism or interest is the new measure of prohibiting parking of vehicles along the busy Paona Keithel road. The same measure was experimented many times earlier, always ending in failure with vehicles coming back to park alongside the busy road. The new measure or the repeatedly experimented measure would cause serious inconveniences to shopkeepers as well as customers. Yet, it is understandable that the authority need to do something in view of the ever increasing congestion along Paona Keithel road.

We would not shy away from acknowledging that it is one good step. At the same time, we cannot overlook the need to take up some associated steps to avoid unnecessary harassment and inconveniences to some sections of the public. The new initiative of the Government necessitates arrangement of an alternative site as parking space. This should have been be taken into account before the prohibition on vehicle parking was enforced. It would be lauded by one and all if the Government can devise some means where the snake is killed and the walking stick is also not broken.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

Share this post:

Related Posts

Comments are closed.