The High Court on 14 March issued a rule asking the government to explain in two weeks why it should not be directed to rehabilitate street hawkers by arranging weekly markets in designated areas of Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC).
BFTUC organizing secretary Kamal Siddiqui filed a writ petition on behalf of the agitating street vendors of the city.
Hearing a writ petition filed by BFTUC organizing secretary and Chhinnomul Hawkers’ Samity’s President Kamal Siddiqui, it also asked the respondents to show causes why they should not be ordered to construct multistoried hawker markets for permanent settlement and rehabilitation of street hawkers as per a decision taken by the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) at a meeting on April 19 last year.
Secretary to the ministries of LGRD, labour and home, inspector general of police, DSCC mayor, and assistant chief of ECNEC have been made respondents to the rule.
The petitioner’s counsel Shukla Sarwat Siraj said the ECNEC at its meeting decided to rehabilitate the hawkers of Dhaka city. But, the DSCC authorities evicted hawkers for clearing footpaths without rehabilitating them, and depriving them of the constitutional right to life, she added.
The bench of Justice Moyeenul Islam Chowdhury and Justice JBM Hassan came up with the rule after hearing the writ petition.
In a separate statement, BFTUC secretary general A R Chowdhury REPON said the government must recognize the genuine demands formulating a special law to protect the rights of street vendors of Bangladesh.
Hawkers demand rehabilitation before eviction
Demanding rehabilitation before eviction, hundreds of hawkers held a rally on 17 January in front of Jatiya Press Club in Dhaka.
Under the banner of Hawkers Somonnoy Parishad, around 1,200 hawkers from different streets of the capital gathered in front of the press club around 11:00am and held the two-and-a-half-hour long rally in favour of a 10-point demand including a stop to the eviction drive without prior rehabilitation.
Meanwhile, the DSCC authorities are continuing the eviction drive in the capital’s Gulistan area as Dhaka South City Corporation authorities are firm to its decision to keep Gulistan’s streets free from street vendors during office hours.
The drive will continue to ensure free streets for the public, DSCC Mayor Mayor Sayeed Khokon said 16 January after an 11-member delegation of Bangladesh Hawkers’ Federation at Nagar Bhaban met with him and presented a memorandum with the 10-point demand.
The mayor had announced that the hawkers would not be allowed to sit with their goods in Gulistan and adjacent areas during working hours from January 15. But they will be allowed to sit at selected places from 6:30pm onwards and all day on the weekends, he said at a meeting with leaders of hawkers’ associations.