Packing off street vendors No takers at Lamphel

Just sit there and put your stuff for sale. Sooner or later buyers will throng the place and there will be buyers galore. The key word or words here are ‘sooner or later’ and obviously for those who live hand to mouth, or who live from the proceedings of the day’s sale, telling them to just sit and wait would amount to telling them to sit and watch their children and other dependants starve before things take a turn for the better. This is one point which seems to have been overlooked by the Imphal Municipal Corporation when it came out with the marching order to all street vendors to pack up and leave by 8 am everyday. Not that the Government has not identified an alternative site for them, for the IMC did say that the street vendors can go and sell their stuff at the market shed which has been readied in front of Shanker Talkies at Lamphel. The crux of the matter however is the vendors at Khwairamband Keithel are all daily wage earners, meaning they make sure that the family members do not go to bed on an empty stomach, from the proceedings of the day’s sale. The point is bigger and more sensitive than clearing Paona Keithel, Thangal Keithel, BT Road and Khwairamband Keithel of the street vendors for tied up with the women vegetable sellers is the question of keeping a family fed and clothed. The Government and the IMC may not want to acknowledge this, but the fact is there are very few people who go to Lamphel to buy vegetables. And mark this, not all those who buy from the roadside vegetable vendors at Khwairamband Keithel come there to shop for vegetables. Many of them may have just gone to either Paona Keithel or Thangal Keithel to buy other stuff and on the way decided to pack in some vegetables which are sold just by the roadside. With so many heading for the said commercial areas on a daily basis, it is but natural that the roadside vendors have a much better prospect of staying put at Khwairamband Keithel than moving to Lamphel. This is where the Government should study why so many make a beeline for the aforementioned places. Has any study been conducted to see why so many go to the said commercial places on a daily basis ? As pointed out so many times in this column, everyone head for Paona Keithel, Thangal Keithel, BT Road and MG Avenue to buy things which may range from nails to needles to the most sophisticated electronic items. The roadside vegetable vendors are there for these are places which people frequent and as noted earlier, not all of them go to these places to buy vegetables, but just pick them up as they are put up for sale by the roadside vendors.
Developing market places beyond the commercial areas mentioned is the need of the hour and there should be no two ways about it. However in the process the Government should also give some thoughts to the plight of the roadside vendors who have been told to pack up and move to an alternative site. It will take some time for the people to start thronging the new site, Lamphel in this case, and the important point is, what may be done in between ? It is also important for the Government to ask whether Thangal Keithel, Paona Keithel, BT Road and MG Avenue are overly crowded due to the presence of the roadside vendors or not. This is a serious point and this is where the Government will need to look beyond just physically removing the roadside vendors and seriously study why everyone should head for these places. One answer may lie in physically expanding the commercial areas. A market shed has come  up at Lamphel and this should be accompanied by shops and outlets selling the daily requirements of the people. In short let grocery stores, hardware stores, shops selling electrical stuffs etc also come up at Lamphel. Another important poser is, what has happened to the first floor of the Ima Keithel ? Why is the upper floor still lying unoccupied ? Perhaps the Government and IMC may come clean on this.