KARACHI: The hustle and bustle associated with a popular spot can be witnessed at the Seaview beach almost every evening. But the activity on the kilometre or so long stretch between the Village and McDonald’s restaurants, part of Abdul Sattar Edhi Avenue, grows considerably on weekends, peaking a little after sunset on Sunday.
Picnickers and revellers, on motorbikes, in cars, pickups and other vehicles, converge on the beach from all roads leading to it. Naturally, all sorts of businesses flourish where people gather to enjoy themselves.
The footpaths and area paved with tiles is occupied by vendors of various commodities though some individuals and families also share the space with them on the broad, short walls and the steps descending into the sand.
Measures needed to improve management, sanitation
There are people selling jewellery pieces made from seashells. There are carts loaded with corn cobs and their roasting arrangements. There are hawkers carrying steel buckets with cold drinks, juice packets, chana chaat, etc. A few snack bars are built at a distance from each other. Even a ‘food truck’ sits in the parking area linked with a small electricity generator placed on the footpath to energise the vehicle’s cooling and heating systems and, of course, light bulbs.
‘Beach buggies’, if the contraptions may be called so, decorated with lights look particularly nice in the dark, scurrying from place to place with jubilant passengers. “We charge just Rs100 for a trip,” says a buggy driver, Baacha Khan. “An individual or a whole family may enjoy the ride at the same fare.”
He says the vehicle is his own. Asked how much a buggy costs and how much he earns daily, he says: “A vehicle can be bought for Rs100,000 to Rs200,000, depending on its condition. He says he saves something between Rs1,000 and Rs1,500 a day. “The petrol costs a lot as the vehicle consumes too much fuel while running through the sticky sand.” Besides, they have to pay the contractor’s men, too. “They usually demand Rs200 a day, but sometimes if we have some genuine excuses for not paying, they don’t insist on the payment.”
Owners of camels and horses stroll around to seek customers, offering a relatively short ride, also for Rs100. There are no fixed points for them and some parents do not like their small children to be taken too far from them. They also charge per ride and not per person, accommodating up to four children or a couple of adults on their animals’ saddles.
The corn cob vendors charge Rs20 to Rs40 for an ear, depending on the size, time and demand for it. When asked how much he normally earns daily, Aslam, a Pakhtun teenager, says: “This pushcart belongs to a contractor, who pays me from Rs700 to Rs800 daily.”
At the two ends of the beach, tall columns are lit with rows of colourful lights running up and down the pillar to attract and entertain prospective customers and the public.
What seems to be missing from Seaview and other picnic spots is the erstwhile ubiquitous photographers who offered the visitors instant photos of a particular size for a reasonable price. Equipped with the handy digital and mobile phone cameras, having the added facility of movie making, the modern picnickers no longer fancy photos of that kind. The poor guys might have found some other means of earning.
Many people enjoy walking in the wet sand with occasional waves touching their feet. But many reckless men and women, not necessarily young, go into deep water and risk their lives. There are no policemen or volunteers to stop the enthusiasts from going inside the danger zone.
The enclosed parking area is crowded on weekends. There are several entry points to the enclosed roads. The staff posted there charges Rs40 per vehicle, but there is hardly anyone to regulate the vehicles inside. So people driving in the opposite direction add to the chaos. The relevant officials of the Defence Housing Authority, or the contractor, should not only collect the fee but must also take responsibility for the drivers’ convenience.
And with the multitudes visiting the place, trash of every kind littering it is also inevitable. Occasionally students of various educational institutions make an effort to clean the sandy area, a gesture that deserves appreciation. But this effort is too small a step towards resolving the gigantic issue. The DHA, having enormous resources, can do it!
Published in Dawn, September 5th, 2017