want - they've got it
Kelegama and Ishani Ranasinghe encounter the street vendors who
sell everything from sea shells to designer shoes
may be the sole method of earning money for these street vendors,
but how legal is it?
The Officer in Charge, Chief Inspector of the Pettah Police,
Mr. S. L. Liyanarachchi had this to say.
"Yes, selling anything on the streets is certainly illegal.
Everyday we file about ten cases, to get these vendors off
the streets, but they keep coming back. It is illegal to sell
things on the streets, because it a hassle for the public."
"However, there are so many people on the streets still,
because it is their only means of survival. That is how they
feed themselves and their families. Therefore, we try to let
them be on the streets most of the time, and evict them only
when necessary; that is when they cause some sort of problem."
say, is the spice of life. In Sri Lanka, you can definitely count
on the street vendors to provide you with it!
the streets of Colombo and its suburbs, there were strange surprises
to be found; sea shells, when there was no sea in sight, headrests,
stuffed toys, tents, fish, CFL light bulbs and even designer shoes,
all on the pavement.
can be found near the Balapokuna Junction with his collection of
headrests and stuffed toys. "I have been making them for five
months," he says, showing us the stuffed toys which resemble
bunches of bananas and king coconuts. "People buy them to hang
on their vehicles."
From the material
he obtains at Kurunegala, he sews theheadrests and stuffed toys
with the help of his family.
The flags of
Sri Lanka, the United States of America and the U.K are printed
the material used for the headrests.
are generally good, but there are days when it is quite dismal.
I earn an income from this. My family depends on me."
Duminda have a large collection of designer shoes on the High Level
road, priced from Rs. 300 to Rs. 800. "We got these shoes from
a shoe factory after it closed down." Though the sales are
quite good, they admit to having problems with the police, but they
are adept at avoiding unpleasant scenes. "We just pack up and
leave. Anyway, we never stick around the same place for over five
days because it is only then the police are made aware of our presence."
sells fish in plastic bags with the 'right amount of oxygen' down
black catfish, Angels and Fighters are the main varieties he offers.
"I breed the fish in Horawella.
day after I go home, I release the fish back into the tanks and
a new batch is brought in the morning." The response from the
public has been good, he assures.
bills soaring, CFL bulbs were introduced into the market. Not surprisingly,
these bulbs were on sale on the Colombo Road, Boralesgamuwa at a
very convenient price of Rs 75. Mrs. H. Wijesinghe says they obtain
the bulbs from a friend, who drops a stock off each morning to be
displayed alongside the greens which they have been selling for
a very long time. "So far, the sales aren't altogether that
good." But they are hopeful that this will improve.
children buy them. They are attracted by them," said Piyasiri
when we asked him about the sale of the colourful tents he had with
him. Seated near a by-road in Bataramulla, he has been selling them
for the past year. "I get the tents from a factory in Ja-Ela."
Just when we
thought there could be no other item which could surprise us, we
came across a massive collection of seashells near the oldest Bellanvila
are brought all the way from Hambantota. Living there day in and
day out, the vendor Peter also makes intricate designs on pots which
were extremely attractive.
of shells in all sizes, shapes and designs were laid out beautifully.
Were the passers attracted? Yes, judging from the number of vehicles
that slowed down and stopped, they were.