The rapid urbanization, accelerated mobilities, and burgeoning growth in the informal economy have generated an urgency in rethinking the sidewalks of Dhaka city as one of the most dynamic elements of urban street life. Sidewalks in Dhaka, being a non-privatized, tax-free urban space, have always provided many informal workers access to the city’s growing economy. The temporal changes of activities on the sidewalks have not only enriched Dhaka’s unique cultural life but also supported the co-existence of different economic classes in a competitive capitalist urban setting. However, to avoid increasing traffic congestions and to achieve a global city aesthetic, recent infrastructural city development interventions are focusing on transforming the sidewalks only as a street component for uninterrupted pedestrian movement. Such functionally linear thinking around sidewalks has resulted in wider roads, narrower sidewalks, evictions of street vendors and other service providers, and hence, economic and cultural marginalization of the city’s significant portion of the informal workforce. This paper documents the stories (Pather Panchali means stories of the streets) from five dynamic sidewalks at five different areas of Dhaka city to make such marginalization spatially visible and provides alternative frameworks for the future development of diverse and inclusive sidewalks.
Co-authors: Arundhuti Dey, Najmush Shaker.