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Pavement hawkers in Colombo to be removed after 15 September

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In a decision that is likely to provoke much protest, the Provincial Councils and Local Government Ministry has decided to remove unauthorised pavement hawkers, billboards and handcarts in Colombo after 15 September, it said in a statement yesterday  

According to the ministry, the Police had complained that hawkers had taken out licenses for newspaper stands and lottery stalls but traded other materials on pavements in contravention to their licenses.  

Some mobile stalls have expanded across the pavement, preventing pedestrians from walking safely. 

The ministry has pointed out that even though most of these establishments claim to be promoting self-employment they have been rented out by the license-holders.

The Police have received many complaints from authorised shop owners that their shops are being covered and their parking blocked by pavement stalls. Pavements in Colombo become less safe and endanger pedestrians, the statement noted. 

“The Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) has already identified alternative places for the pavement hawkers that are to be removed from the Colombo city. The CMC will introduce those places to the unauthorised hawkers identified through a survey done by the Police on 5 August.”

Provincial Councils and Local Government Ministry Secretary Kamal Padmasiri directed the CMC to supply necessary facilities such as electricity and sanitary facilities for alternative places. Also newspaper stands and lottery stalls are to be reopened in places identified by police and the CMC that do not obstruct pedestrians.

Paper stands and lottery stalls will be maintained according to a plan approved by the CMC. Hawkers have reportedly agreed with the CMC that no other items will be sold in their stalls and legal action will be taken against vendors who play loud music from their stalls. 

As per the instructions of President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, a program was recently initiated to compile proper procedure for trade activities in Colombo. The program aims to make pavements free for pedestrians, reduce traffic congestion and beautify Colombo.

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