Police launch crackdown on roadside vending at ThamelAuthorities claim roadside vendors were involved in illegal activities and blocking the road. Meanwhile, vendors who live hand-to-mouth fear for their livelihoods.
Just like any other night, Sonu Lama was selling food items on a nanglo [bamboo respectacle] on Wednesday in front of the Purple Haze pub at Thamel, but all of a sudden, police came and detained her along with her goods. She was held for a night at the Metropolitan Police Circle Sorhakhutte and released on Thursday morning. But they have yet to return her nanglo and goods.
“I have been running my nanglo shop here for over five years now and this is the sole source of my livelihood,” said Lama, 43, who lives in a rented room at Dabali Marg, Thamel with her ninth grader son. Lama sells instant noodles, bottled water, cigarettes and tea among other things and makes around Rs15000 a month.
“Police have threatened me and other roadside vendors that we could be jailed for a month if arrested again,” said Lama.
Similarly, Sandesh Khan, a small-time roadside vendor at Narsingh Chowk in Thamel claimed that police roughed him up two days ago and have detained Bishnu Dhakal, who ran a nanglo shop nearby Khan’s for the past three days. Khan studies in grade 11 at Shree Shanti Vidyagriha school in the morning and runs his nanglo shop in the evening.
The Metropolitan Police Circle, Sorhakhutte told the Post that they have detained three such vendors and are preparing to charge them with public offence for running shops illegally.
Of late police have launched a crackdown on roadside vending in the Thamel area threatening the livelihoods of dozens of poor families.
“If we are not allowed to earn our livelihoods this way then the government should give us an alternative. We sell goods on the roadside by sacrificing sleep, and braving dust and vehicular fumes, and then again police harass us. This is injustice,” complained Lama.
She said the police say she can sell on the roadside in the Sorhakhutte area but not at Thamel. “But unlike Thamel, Sorkhakhutte area becomes quiet soon after dusk so who will I sell the items to?” she said.
Meanwhile, the Thamel Tourism Development Council vice-president Bhabishwar Sharma, told the Post he was unaware of the alleged police crackdown on roadside vending at Thamel. “Police might have chased away a few to avoid traffic jams especially on Friday nights when Thamel is crowded. But I am not aware of such a crackdown.”
But another office bearer of the council, Raju Man Dangol, confirmed that police have launched a crackdown on nanglo vendors in coordination with the Kathmandu Metropolitan City. He claimed that nanglo vendors were involved in illegal activities including selling of narcotic drugs.
Deputy Superintendent of Police Durga Prasad Dahal, who is also the chief of the Sorakhutte police circle, said they started removing roadside vendors after complaints by locals.
“The Thamel streets are already narrow and these vendors cause more difficulties for pedestrians including foreign tourists and vehicles. Also there have been cases of drug dealing and robbery, so we have taken this approach,” said Dahal.
But roadside vendors alleged that police were working on behalf of the nightclubs and restaurants and chased them away. “These big restaurants sell tea, water and cigarettes at exorbitant prices whereas we sell these items cheap. So the new police DSP is chasing us to help the big businesses,” complained a roadside vendor requesting anonymity.