ISLAMABAD, April 16: Islamabad has seen many new fancy stores emerge lately that provide more variety of choice to customers and are appreciated, but the residents are inconvenienced by the encroachment of parking spaces and sidewalks due to the emergence of these new stores.
Several stores and small vendors have permanently encroached the parking areas and sidewalks in Super Market, F-6, forcing drivers to make multiple rounds hoping a car might empty a space.
Those who are on foot also find it hard to move around because of the frequent obstructions.
And because of the shortage of space, in most cases drivers park wherever they can squeeze their cars, often taking over space on roads and hindering traffic.
In F-6, a few large concrete stair cases have been constructed that have completely over taken the sidewalks and protrude several feet into the parking areas to the right side of the Munchies food outlet and in front of it. The stair cases lead up to stores for exotic apparel, shoes and book.
A visitor to the market complained how the three staircases, with decorative marble steps and chrome railings, have occupied parking spots of at least two cars each.
Worst yet are the small vendors who have found room around the stair cases for their tiny juice outlets, barbeque grills, cheap gents and ladies clothing, and the spaces under the stair cases have been transformed into small jewellery and accessories shops.
The new stair cases have replaced the older circular steps that used to lead to the first floor of the buildings and served the same purpose.
Noman Waheed, owner of one such store with an exclusive staircase on the first floor, pointed out how others had developed exclusive paths to their shops, pointing to the steps to a shopping block across his store and then to the one adjacent.
“We obtained approval from the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to build our staircase,” he explained, but did not produce a document to prove his claim. His only justification again and again was how everybody in the market was doing it.
A senior source in the CDA explained that people either used their influence over CDA to get their way or simply violated regulations and the authority stood indifferent to illegal activities happening in the city.
“Even if CDA did allow it, the construction should have been done within the identified premises according to the Building Code, not on the sidewalks and parking spaces making movement for visitors difficult,” said an official, critical of the roles and responsibilities of the Authority’s Building Inspectors in keeping a check on encroachments.
“This is how CDA operates. First they let illegal constructions happen and once people have encroached, the CDA then finds ways to recommend regularisation of the illegal construction,” the official further explained.
Officials from the CDA Chairman Syed Tahir Shahbaz's office explained how their fight against encroachment was an unending endeavour.
However, they did clarify that the authority had never allowed demolition of the old staircases or authorised new ones.
One official revealed that the CDA chairman would personally visit the market places and residential sectors from next week to bring about big changes in these areas.
Documents available with Dawn, acquired after a meeting of the Chairman with his high ups on Tuesday, show that the CDA plans to deal with civic issues – garbage disposal, maintenance of greenery, and especially removing encroachments to create peoples’ right-of-way – in the coming future.