I found it a bit unfair that authorities have literally thrown hawkers out of the 500 meters radius of the Port Louis Central Market and even more than that. Only a couple of days after this ‘clean up’ operation in the streets of Port Louis, it became a pain to find my preferred cakes or any other snacks to nibble during the day. However, streets were surprisingly easier and pleasing to use, without the need to zig zag in between hawkers’ tables on the pavement and even on the streets.
Police were accused of using force and being brutal in an illegal gathering of hawkers. Few of these hawkers were even arrested and on the next day, private radios did broadcast the painful cries of those dads and mothers who had no other choice than to sell illegally to feed their children. On one day, they even stayed in the cold till late in front of the municipality of Port Louis.
Really, I felt pity for them. After all, they are only trying to earn a living without robbing or killing people around. And the government should definitely help them by providing the necessary infrastructure and any legal framework for them to do business.
That was much before I realized that the hawkers were becoming too demanding.
The authorities proposed a few alternate places for these hawkers to operate but the Street Venders Association rejected all of them. They absolutely want to operate in the city center. Period. A few days ago, the Street Venders Association even threatened to go on the streets and at a point of time, I even heard a few shouting that they will block streets and the motorway!
Something that you might not know is that not all of the hawkers are ‘poor’. Some of them have huge mansions, drive big cars and above all, they do not pay tax, unlike you and me! Nor any fee for permits, unlike shop owners or those central market merchants who have previously gone to court to gain justice, leaving no choice to authorities other than track down every hawker doing business illegally in the region. A totally understandable action on behalf of those who are paying all their dues to the authorities.
Few of the hawkers are still operating today, playing hide and seek with the frequent police patrols with the risk of getting fined and their items seized. I was so sorry earlier but because of their demands and threats, things have changed (even if we should not put all of them in the same basket).
Go and get yourselves f*!