KOZHIKODE: After knocking on all possible doors, seeking solutions to their long-pending problems, the street hawkers in the Corporation limit have finally decided to go on agitation mode. Under the aegis of the various trade union organisations, they are planning to launch protests against the inordinate delay in solving their woes.
For the thousands of petty shop owners and street hawkers, both life and job are unstable as they are under the prying eyes of the police, health and food safety officials, who often object to their business. Moreover, hundreds of them are under the threat of eviction for various proposed urban development projects, which will render them jobless.
In the interests of the vendors and petty shop owners, various unions had been demanding that the Corporation authorities give them identity cards and issue licence to allow them to smoothly carry on their business.
District convener of the Petty Shop and Footpath Vendors Association and CITU leader C P Sulaiman says 80 per cent of the street hawkers are left without licence and identity cards.
According to the figures available with the association, there are more than 3,000 street hawkers and petty shop owners in the city, who also comprise seasonal vendors.
“Licence was issued in 2004 for the vendors who applied for them in 1990s. The applicants, who applied for licence after 2004, are yet to get them. They have also not got their identity cards,” he says.
INTUC leader M Rajan says the police and the Corporation officials cannot come in the way of their business once they have licence and identity cards.
“As they are left without licence, they can be easily exploited by the police and merchants. Police seek bribes from them, while merchants attack them, citing they are unauthorised,” says Rajan.On how the laxity in issuing licence adversely affects petty and street hawkers, Sulaiman says they are denied allowances and opportunities for a better living.
“Without licence they are unable to become self-empowered and for them it is tough to launch cooperative ventures as banks are reluctant to provide loans to such unauthorised vendors,” says Sulaiman. The intervention of the trade union organisations has improved the plight of street hawkers, say Sulaiman and Rajan. The vendors, who were less concerned about their rights, are now thinking about joining hands.
Meanwhile, in yet another example to prove the laxity of the authorities, the open market, which was proposed by the Corporation to rehabilitate the vendors, still remains on paper.
Petty Shop and Footpath Vendors Association leader P S Mohammed Basheer says the land which was identified eight years ago is now almost in an abandoned state.
Slamming the authorities, Basheer says the order by the Supreme Court to the local self-governing bodies to ensure adequate facilities, including space, water and light, to street hawkers is yet to be implemented in the city.
Corporation Mayor A K Premajam and Deputy Mayor P T Abdul Latheef say that they will do the needful to address the woes of the vendors.
Premajam says she will ask the health wing to issue licence to the deserved vendors.
Steps to open the open market are on, says Abdul Latheef.