Hawkers must be given alternatives, say pedestrians
Hyderabad: Footpaths that are supposed to facilitate pedestrians are being used by hawkers, forcing pedestrians to walk on busy roads.
“I like to walk short distances, but where should I walk?” Chola Raju, a second-year engineering student asked.
Sai Moulya, a homemaker who walks to a nearby market, informed The Observer: “We can’t afford a scooter. Walking on roads without footpaths sometimes seems like walking on a deathbed to me.”
Pedestrians fear walking on roads, especially on roads in cities like Hyderabad. They have become so used to seeing hawkers on footpaths they forgot that footpaths are meant for them.
Madhu Kumar, who walks from his house to the metro station every day, said that it is not just important to build footpaths; the government should create awareness on using these footpaths. “If we don’t want hawkers blocking the footpaths, then the government should provide them with alternatives. ,”
Suhasini Medasani, another homemaker, whose house is opposite a busy national highway, said that she has seen people crossing the road meeting with accidents.
On the one hand, pedestrians express their concern about not having proper footpaths; On the other hand, hawkers are struggling to do business with police asking for bribes.
Srilakshmamma M, who also sells tender coconuts on footpaths, said every month she has to pay Rs 500 to the police when they come for an inspection. “Last time I refused to pay them as business was running in loss, so they took away my hand scythe; which costs me around Rs 2000.”
Rajasekar E. parks his biryani truck adjoining the footpath and serves his customers who either sit on the footpath or sit in their vehicles, which block the road. “I have been doing this business for 12 years now. I don’t have the money to rent a place, so I sell on roads.”
“It has been almost a year that the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) officials told me they will allocate a market space for my business, they took pictures of my shop, all my details, but (I have) no response until now,” said Nageswara Rao P who sells tender coconuts on a footpath.
The hawkers say they don’t know where else to sell. Most hawkers are not in a condition to buy or rent a place. Government support, they say, is inadequate.
Reshma P, an assistant professor at the Global Academy of Technology, who has researched pedestrian road safety, said that the fault lies in the design of the roads and footpaths. “They should build a road in such a way that it facilitates both vehicle users and pedestrians; separate space should be given to the Hawkers.”
Talking about the solution, Madhu said: “The only solution to reduce passengers’ accidents is by imposing heavy fines and severe punishments to those who break the rules.”
However, Ganesh K, who sells meals on the footpath, said that the problem arises only if the businesses cause a traffic jam; even the traffic officials get irritated and ask us to vacate. “I have witnessed three spot-death accidents on this road. I do not attend many customers at the same time to avoid such mishaps.”
Sivasubraniam Jayaraman, Manager at Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), a non-profit organization working on road safety and transportation of Indian citizens said “Pedestrian trips account for a quarter to third trips in many Indian cities. However, the poor quality of pedestrian infrastructure sends a message that pedestrians are not welcome in the urban environment.”
With the rapid development in smart cities gaining more attention, pedestrians also are being prioritized like any other vehicle owner. Government initiatives on developing metro trains and encouraging carpooling will in the long run reduce the number of vehicles on roads, making it safe for pedestrians.