Business dull for Pondy Bazaar’s relocated hawkers

Fifty-four-year-old Nagaya greets every customer who walks into the Chennai Corporation’s shopping complex in T. Nagar, as his allotted shop is right at the entrance of the building.

Not many in the Pondy Bazaar complex though are able to attract potential customers to their 4x5 feet shops, especially if they are nudged into the distant crevices of the 3-storeyed building that doesn’t see much footfall in a day.

Nagaya still does not do as well as when he was selling blouse fabric and other cloth material by the pavement, he says. Back then, he earned about Rs. 6,000 a day, now, he is happy if he is able to make at least Rs. 500 every day.

The mandatory shifting of vendors from the pavements of T. Nagar to the shopping complex was part of the Corporation’s drive to free up footpaths and enable better movement of vehicles in the commercial hub.

The complex became functional last October. While the pavements of Pondy Bazaar have become easier to negotiate, the move has spelt doom for many hawkers.

Seventeen-year-old Swati, who breezed into the complex with her mother on Wednesday, says she misses seeing the hawkers on the road. “I am happy I can now find everything under one roof, but this takes effort. Earlier, I could simply stop by the roadside if I saw something interesting to buy,” she says.

This is a sentiment echoed by other shoppers, as well, say vendors at the complex. Ganesh, who sells trinkets at shop no. 247 on the second floor, says, “When I was selling on the road, I had regular customers who were happy to stop by. Now, I hardly see them, as they don’t know where I am anymore.”

He says many customers hasten to leave as the space is stuffy. “The building is not ventilated well enough. This is a far cry from what I, as well as my customers, were used to on the pavement,” he says.

Shahul Hameed of Nifasha Footwear says he sold just one pair of slippers on Tuesday. “I used to make at least Rs. 2,000 every day when my shop was on Pondy Bazaar Road,” he says.

Nifasha, his daughter, after who he has named his shop, has scored 1,030 marks in the class XII exams. He wants to ensure she does engineering, but life is difficult for him now, says Hameed.

According to a Corporation official, the demands put forth by the hawkers association — better ventilation and maintenance, security, an ATM, raids on those still selling on the streets, among others — have been placed before the mayor and the Corporation commissioner.

“We appointed a watchman and a maintenance person last week. We intend to install a generator soon to deal with the electricity overload in the complex,” said the official.

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Printable version | Dec 3, 2021 8:04:58 PM |

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