Guwahati footpaths have been overrun and nobody cares

Guwahati footpaths have been overrun and nobody cares

Chetan Bhattarai | September 15, 2018 16:05 hrs

GUWAHATI: We just saw the PWD minister surveying work of colourful tiles on the footpaths of Guwahati. There is a beautification drive going on in many parts of the city. 

A lot of people welcomed the drive, but many are already worried that soon after the beautification drive, these places will be occupied by vendors selling vegetables or fish or some other product. 

Guwahati’s footpaths have been overrun by petty businesses and there seems to be no hope left for pedestrians in this modern city. 

In between all this, G Plus found that most of the footpaths have been occupied by either vegetable vendors or fish sellers. The ratio of occupancy was roughly 3:1 for vegetable vendors and fish sellers.

This made us call for a poll on whether they should be removed. To our surprise, 74% of the respondents in a total sample size of 856 were of the view that they should be removed. Only 26% believed that the fish sellers and vegetable vendors should be allowed to operate until suitable locations are allocated to them.

Respondents expressed that not only vegetable vendors, normal shopkeepers have extended their shops right onto the roads. It’s illegal, but no strict action has been taken so far. In the mornings shopkeepers would just take out the goods from their shops and occupy the footpaths as a display area.

The footpaths have thankfully not become homes yet in Guwahati, felt the respondents. Apart from that footpaths are used as parking spaces, market places, public toilets, garbage disposal sites and roadside eateries. This illegal footpath utilisation is rampant throughout the city, felt the majority of respondents.

Those in favour of removal of vendors from footpaths felt that the city was getting crowded with vegetable vendors and fish sellers. Due to the economic progress of Guwahati and mushrooming of apartments and housing colonies there has been a rise in all kinds of vendors providing services at the doorstep. These vendors are un-organised and put their goods on sale right on the footpath as there are not many options for them to set up shop. 

This has created problems for the pedestrians who now have to use the already crowded roads to walk. Respondents felt that the government is busy with bigger projects and is neglecting the rights of the pedestrians. The footpaths are meant for walking and should be strictly used for just that, felt the respondents. Most of the city pedestrians are seen sharing the roads with other vehicles and getting irritated when honked upon. The safety of the pedestrians in Guwahati was neglected, felt many, and they strongly advocated that footpaths should be dedicated just for the purpose of walking and nothing else.

The 26% respondents supporting the vendors felt that the government was to be solely blamed for not understanding the demands of the city dwellers. The city residents are a busier lot and having a fish or a vegetable vendor nearby is an added advantage. They agree that occupying the footpaths is not good but argue that these are poor people are only trying to eke out an honest living.

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