KARACHI: As the grand operation to remove heavy encroachments in Saddar and adjoining areas completed two weeks, authorities demolished 200 more shops, a restaurant and a bus terminal on Sunday.
“No encroachment can be allowed on city pavements, roads and parks after clear instructions of the Supreme Court,” said Mayor Wasim Akhtar, who is spearheading the anti-encroachment operation.
He said the country’s worst and hardest encroachments were removed in Saddar with the help and cooperation of various civic organisations, and law enforcement agencies.
Police kiosks built at roundabouts and obstructing traffic will also be demolished
“That is why this action is smooth and continues without hurdles. The removal of encroachments will continue in other neighbourhoods of the city as well without any leniency and discrimination.”
He asked shopkeepers to take away their belongings put on footpaths, else, they would be removed and “you, yourself would be responsible for the loss”.
Metropolitan Commissioner Dr Saifur Rehman said some 122 shops, illegally built on the storm-water drain behind the Rainbow Centre along Sohrab Katrik Road, were demolished.
Nearby, on the road connecting Preedy Street, another 50 shops were razed.
He said with more than 20 offices along with an inter-city bus terminal, called Shalimar Bus Adda, were demolished.
A restaurant and eight shops built on the footpath near Bambino Cinema on Aga Khan III Road and more than 20 shops near the Saddar Fire Station were also demolished.
“The operation continued for several hours today in which our teams have torn down more than 200 shops, a restaurant and a bus terminus,” Dr Rehman told Dawn.
He said the operation would be entering its third week on Monday and “we still need a great deal to accomplish this task”.
Encroachment removal along KCR track planned
Officials said that the removal of encroachments along both tracks of the Karachi Circular Railway was also being planned.
They said the encroachers had created a mess for pedestrians and the city at large and earning millions of rupees.
“We will bring Karachi into its original shape for which we already have the support of citizens and traders community,” said an upbeat Mayor Akhtar.
During his visit to various parts of Saddar, he interacted with area people and inspected the proceedings.
Officials said the citizens thanked the mayor for removing encroachments in Saddar and brought the iconic Empress Market to its original shape.
Mayor Akhtar said resistance always came when one did something good but they should not be given importance. “Most shopkeepers and traders have cooperated in this campaign and vacated the space in front of their shops or distanced from drains, footpaths and parks after receiving notices from the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation for which we are thankful to them.”
He said it was the duty of the KMC to bring the glory of the teeming city back, which needed joint efforts from all citizens.
Dr Rehman said the removal of encroachments was being carried out peacefully without any discrimination.
He said though little resistance was faced at some places, the situation overcame with the help of police and paramilitary Rangers.
Officials said close to 90 per cent of the total encroachments in Saddar had been removed; however, it was still far from satisfactory.
“It is our duty to retrieve every inch of the land, whichever land owning agency it belongs to, that has been encroached upon, at any cost,” said Dr Rehman.
He said an encroachment-free city would offer right of the way to pedestrians and open space to every shop in addition to other positives.
The metropolitan commissioner said that the police pickets built on roundabouts and causing problems in the smooth flow of traffic would also be removed during the operation.
Published in Dawn, November 19th, 2018