It was a gathering of one of its kind in recent times. About 600 hawkers and street vendors involved in different kinds of petty businesses in the city turned up for a meeting convened by the city police as part of the ongoing month-long awareness campaign on road safety and traffic rules at I.V. Palace on Monday.

The meeting drew some interesting suggestions from the hawkers and street vendors.

Municipal Commissioner G. Ravi Babu, who addressed the meeting along with Deputy Commissioner of Police M. Ravindranath Babu and Assistant Commissioner of Police A.V. Ramana, said that the Vijayawada Municipal Corporation was contemplating forming a “Hawkers Federation” for the welfare of hawkers.

The federation will have representatives of hawkers, residential welfare societies and the officials.

“Recently I attended a national level workshop of hawkers and street-vendors in Goa, where many issues concerning the small scale business community came up for discussion. International organisations such as the UNESCO reported that the street vendors can be the providers of most affordable healthy and hygienic food items,” he said.

Providing ESI facility, getting recognition by business bodies and extending financial assistance by providing loans under Swarn Jayanti Shahari Rozgar Yojana (SJSRY) were some of the sops being planned for the hawkers and street-vendors. The general body of the VMC will discuss all these issues in its next meeting, he said.

Mr. Ravindranath Babu appealed to hawkers to extend their cooperation to the effective implementation of traffic norms for ensuring a problem-free commuting for the people of the city in commercial areas dominated by them.

Mr. Ramana referred to some of the areas where hawkers were violating traffic rules and causing traffic problems. Business activities on roads at Kaleswara Rao market, Besant road, Swathi theatre and Deepthi travels were the main cause for regular traffic jams, he pointed out, and cautioned the hawkers that traffic rules would be enforced strictly in the days to come to set right the things.

The hawkers raised a number of issues, including the need to deploy traffic constables at various junctions, tackling the influence of political leaders on business activities in Besant road, issuing identity cards for them and taking care of sanitation by the municipal authorities regularly.

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