Saturday, July 14, 2007

Decongesting the Jagadamba Junction

Our objectives
To decongest the area to allow it to function efficiently as a transition zone, linking different parts of the city centre
To provide better environment for shoppers and cinema goers

Reduce pollution in an area frequented by large sections of the public
Improve accessibility to Poorna market

Possible Causes of Congestion

Increase in shopping activity at Jagadamba Junction – esp. Chandana Bros. & Bommana shops
Location of a Cinema hall (Jagadamba theatre) at the Junction and four other cinema halls in the by-lanes behind the junction.
Lack of adequate parking facilities for shoppers and cinema goers
Implementation of parking regulations not strict enough

Experiments to determine the extent of change required

Pedestrianise the area for one-day by stopping traffic into the centre
Seal access to Chandana and Bommana shops from the Main road
Strict enforcement of parking regulations in lots available currently
Survey staff to be positioned at traffic junctions, parking lots and strategic points on the footpaths to observe the movements of vehicle owners, pedestrians, shoppers, and public using the area as transition zone.
Plugging of access to different combination of roads to be tried out.
Conduct a meeting of Shopowners, Petrol bunk owners and Users of the area to know their views on pedestrianisation and day-to-day problems that they think the government can help solve.
Seek comments and suggestions from the citizens of Vizag, through market survey, which may be conducted by the management students of GITAM college.
Conduct an exhibition of the Pedestrianisation draft proposal, which would be open to the public. Invite their views in a visitors’ book or in a follow-up workshop to be attended by organisations and old residents of Vizag.
Conduct a meeting for the Press & invite them to open a debate to allow citizens to send letters to be published in the daily newspapers during the public consultation period.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Entrepreneurs, Municipal authorities & the Public

Whilst developing new ideas for petty trade activities, we need to know why the prevalent conditions are unsuitable and for whom. According to the entrepreneur, there is some uncertainity in the business activity due to the lack of permanence of shelter. When there is sudden rain, some part of the activity must be stalled until such time that sunshine returns. Most of the petty traders who operate from a baddi, use it mostly as a store, for example, a cycle-repair shop or a mechanic uses the stall / baddi space to store his tools, tyres, etc.

Almost always, the business activity stretches beyond the stall onto the open space available just outside. Either a wooden counter or table is pulled out every morning when the shop opens or a raised platform in concrete exists that serves as an extension to the stall. So, the space requirement for the business activity is very flexible and always more than 6’-0”x 6’-0”. This outdoor space may also include a waiting area for the customers which may consist of a rickety wooden bench put out onto the footpath itself.

Some of the already existing baddies serve also as residences. The few belongings of the individual or family are stored inside the baddi and his workplace and sleeping quarters have the sky for roof. So, as far as the petty trader is concerned, there can be no better option than his present baddi and its outdoor extension, because it is sure value for money. He gets space free of cost outside of his 6’-0” x 6’-0” stall. In terms of facilities, the petty trader may want a toilet in the vicinity and also water supply, especially if he owns a snack or a juice stall. He, therefore needs a planned bazaar only if these facilities are provided and also if he can be better sheltered from the weather.

As far as the municipal authorities are concerned, random growth of small businesses can create unhygienic conditions for the public due to the lack of proper drainage facilities and thus increase the health problems of the city. The footpath is not anymore just a circulation space; it also becomes a business or commercial space.

From the point of view of the public, a planned bazaar will be more efficient to carry out shopping activities; more hygienic, at least partially sheltered and therefore shopping may be done with better protection from the harsh sun. It is possible that a new bazaar may be located further away from the buyer’s home than an existing baddi cluster. There is often a single baddi located at almost every street junction. It keeps in mind the walking distances to be covered from the buyer’s home. However, these street corner baddis are often only paan-shops stocking limited items. Other needs must be met with at shops which may be located further away. Usually, the informal growth of baddis is found to occur near a bus-stop or sometimes a temple.

It helps if the municipal authorities survey well the physical aspects of already existing petty trades such as spatial requirements, low-cost construction materials, and the unconventional servicing and infrastructural facilities in use. In the end, the designed space and shelter must be priced correctly, or else, the exercise tends to fail due to lack of interest from the petty traders in the new project.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Understanding the informal sector

In Visakhapatnam, petty trade flourishes at street corners, on the footpaths and on small pieces of Municipal Corporation of Visakhapatnam (MCV) lands that are unoccupied. The petty traders use tree cover or a baddi i.e. a kiosk for a shelter. They are increasing in number, causing congestion and occupation of lands that can be more suitably used. The Corporation felt the need to relocate these traders to alloted spaces. Initially, more than 15 sites were identified by MCV for a bazaar that provides spaces for petty trades.

It was necessary to perceive the problems faced by Petty traders in the city and those faced by the Municipal Corporation due to the existence of petty trade activities. The initial observations showed that Cost is a major factor in selection of the type of stalls that are seen at random locations all over the city. Twenty years ago, a baddi of size 6’-0” x 6’-0” could cost Rs.5,000. Today, the same baddi can cost upto Rs.20,000. Having stood the test of time, these baddis are probably the most appropriate and cost-effective solutions as shelters for business. The spontaneity of the entrepreneur and his family in creating a suitable work environment results in individualistic designs.

The infrastructural costs are kept low by occupying street junctions, footpaths and vacant lots, instead of purchasing regular shops. The hawker uses sometimes a bedsheet to spread out his wares, or a few wooden crates that make a small platform or a kiosk (these are made from wooden planks from used cargo crates for the walls and asbestos sheets for the roof). These baddis or kiosks do not require lengthy procedures for approval by the authorities. A shop constructed in brick and plaster with an RCC slab roof can be built and occupied only after submission of architectural plans to the Municipal Corporation. This can be time consuming and of course more expensive.

The design for the petty traders project took the form of a tree, a pergola and a barrel vault.