Small traders and hawkers of the city’s footpaths of Dakshin Surma in Sylhet face a surge in extortion demanded by the police, local influential political leaders, musclemen, and security guards performing duties near the vendors’ floating shops. Sources said that the vendors, especially fish, fruits, vegetables, garments clothes and food traders, usually set up their shops occupying footpaths, part of city streets or near the kitchen markets illegally. Police, political leaders and the security guards take it as an opportunity to collect toll from the small traders on a regular basis. They collect thousands of taka every day.Although there is no specific statistics on how many small traders set up their makeshift shops on the streets or besides kitchen markets, Extortion at Kadamtaly, Bustarminal, New Railway station, Old Railway station, Babnapoint, Krinbridge Point and Chandnighat has been going on unabated. Some vendors said, they have to pay on daily, weekly or monthly basis to run their shops on the footpaths. They allege that police usually collect toll in the name of officers, especially officer-in-charge (OC), Dakshin Surma and traffic inspector (TI), of their respective areas. The activists of the ruling party and its associate bodies usually collect toll on weekly and monthly basis. The small traders also have to pay toll to the political leaders on many occasions. “I have already paid Tk 40 to two police patrol teams. Normally this figure goes up to Tk 100 to Tk 120 by evening. If you are locked in an argument with police, you will have to pay double eventually. The policemen do not like haggling,” said a vendor at Railghate seeking anonymity. Policemen beat vendors if they fail to pay them tolls. Another roadside shop owner at Kadamtaly said, he has to pay around TK 50-100 to police every week to continue his business. “I can’t avoid it, as I have to run my family with the earnings that come from this shop. We live under constant stress,” he said. Small traders have to pay Tk 1,000-2,000 as ‘salami’ to the local influential political leaders and police for setting up their makeshift shops on footpaths in the Railghate area.