In a move that has ignited public debate and outrage, Thimphu Thromde took decisive action on the 21 December and 26 December against illegal hawkers selling vegetables along the foothpaths and parking spaces of Wangchu Lam and Kaja Throm. However, upon closer examination, it has been uncovered that Thimphu Thromde had been issuing warnings and imposing fines for almost a year before resorting to these measures.
Despite public outcry, some comments on social media platforms reflected a nuanced perspective. One commenter expressed concern, stating, “We will buy from there, but Thimphu Thromde, please don’t kick their stomach because we will only know the value for them.”
Others criticized the lack of prior notification, especially for vendors who travel from distant locations such as Paro, Punakha, and Wangduephodrang, hoping to earn from their farm produce.
During the investigation, it was revealed that most of the vendors were from Kaja Throm competing with the increasing number of wholesalers attempting to sell their goods alongside a few genuine villagers.
According to Thimphu Thromde’s Offense and Fine Schedule, Section 150, Point 150.6 stipulates that the sale of goods or services on streets and pedestrian walkways without approval incurs a fine of Nu 1,000 per instance. The action was reportedly taken after giving sufficient time to hawkers, wholesalers, and vendors to comply with notifications and warnings. The decision was prompted by numerous complaints received from traditional vegetable vendors and commuters along the footpaths and parking spaces.
However, a crucial sentiment emerged from the public, emphasizing a balance between cleanliness and empathy for the vendors. One comment urged, “We are okay with the rules, but that doesn’t mean they are allowed to throw away the goods of the poor ones. They can warn them as they might not have received the information. It’s good to keep the city clean, but that doesn’t mean you can dominate poor people. Remember, we are a GHN country”
Thimphu Thromde said the crackdown was in adherence to its rules and regulations. Despite facing criticism, Thimphu Thromde revealed that most of the vegetable vendors were from Kaja Throm, and due to their departure, plans are underway for better facilities for wholesalers in Babesa, along with other necessary improvements, including newer outlets at new locations.
In response to these developments, the Thromde emphasized the need for balance between maintaining order and providing livelihood opportunities, hinting at upcoming initiatives to address the concerns raised by both vendors and the public.
Presently, the majority of individuals posing as hawkers, but actually engaging in vegetable vending have returned to their designated areas. Nonetheless, there are still instances of a few wholesalers and retailers attempting to sell produce unlawfully on occasions. Thimphu Thromde asserts that if this trend persists, appropriate measures will be implemented to address the situation.