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Sylhet Footpaths in the grips of hawkers Again

31Makeshift shops put up by hawkers along footpaths and large sections of the roads in different areas of Sylhet, have compelled pedestrians to jaywalk and often face accidents.
The situation has arisen due to the negligence of the city corporation and indifference of the Sylhet Metropolitan Police over the issue.
Earlier, hawkers only set up makeshift shops before Eid and Puja, but now they keep a good portion of footpaths as well as roads in their grips round the year. Many residents of the city said only a few years back, a traffic jam was rarely seen on roads, but now it has become common phenomenon.
Md Rahmat Ullah, Additional Deputy Commissioner Of the Sylhet Metropolitan Police (SMP) said: “We always try to keep the pavements free for pedestrians.
“In a recent meeting with hawkers we asked them to keep the footpaths free.”
He also said the would be more strict in future to ensure that the footpaths are free from encroachment.
The worst scenario prevails along two kilometers of walkway stretching from the Station road to Keannbridge areas where vehicles are stuck on road throughout the day.
A similar scene is also found in front of Zila Parishad office and at Surma point, Court point, and the Zindabazar and Bandarbazar areas.
Students and teachers of Agrogami Girls’ High School, Durgakumar Primary School, Sylhet Womens’ College and Madan Mohon College face difficulties daily to get to these institutions as they are located in the heart of the city.
Pickpocketing is common occurrence there, said some guardians.
Anayet Hossain, a banker, said: “We face problems when we walk along the Amborkhana road. Hawkers have grabbed half of this one-way road.”
Earlier, the hawkers used these footpaths during major festivals like Eid-ul-Fitr, Eid ul Azha and Durga Puja. But now they run business all the year round, he said.
“Hawkers are doing business on road because of the negligence of authorities concerned, including the Sylhet City Corporation. Local political leaders especially the ruling party men are backing these hawkers so that they can run business smoothly,” he added.
Traders are also unhappy as hawkers set up makeshift shops on footpaths ahead of any festival blocking view of the permanent shops in the neighbouring markets.
Residents demanded that the authorities clear the footpaths ensuring safe movement at zebra crossings and footbridges and underpasses so that the pedestrians can move safely.