mid-day editorial: Don't stall the Causeway problem

The face-off between hawkers, shopkeepers and residents of Colaba Causeway intensified further last week, with tenants of a building accusing hawkers of blatant bullying and harassment.

A front-page report in this paper on Saturday stated that residents and shop owners of Mathuradas Estate Services Society have been struggling with sporadic water supply and non-functional air conditioners after their building’s utilities were allegedly attacked by a gang of hawkers who man stalls lining the street outside. These hawkers have actually blocked a passageway between buildings on the Causeway, denying residents access to repair pipes and air-conditioners.

The residents vs hawkers tussle shows no signs of resolving. In fact, the problem is escalating, so much so that the shoppers’ paradise and tourist hub has become a tinderbox. There needs to be some regulation of hawkers who are setting up stalls there. While residents are making a strong claim that the hawkers be shifted out to Ballard Pier, that may not be possible. Yet, it is possible to control numbers by ensuring that only legal hawkers have stalls. Even within the Causeway, there should be some spaces earmarked for hawking. It is unacceptable that office, shop and residential entrances are blocked by roadside stalls. These need to be cleared immediately. Some hawkers store their paraphernalia in entrances of old buildings at night. This is a huge hazard and can prove a serious deterrent in case of a fire.

The Colaba issue needs to be taken seriously. Already, there have been a number of altercations between hawkers and residents. There are also some local politicians involved here and, all in all, this is a potent mix ready to ignite.

Numerous complaints have the BMC and police passing the buck. This is a waste of time. Every party — residents, shopkeepers and a representatives of the hawkers’ union — needs to come to the table. Resolve the problem, because Colaba Causeway has become a veritable ticking time bomb.

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