In one sense the anti-encroachment drive has been a good thing since it focused on an unaddressed, long standing issue. A clear message has now been sent that everyone must live by the law.
Before the drive commenced the traders and associations were already on board. The labourers are the ones who are actually suffering because of the drive but we haven’t made any plans for them yet. We suppose the labour will go where the shops will eventually settle.
We’ve had meetings and have made committees that have also had meetings. We’ve planned to accommodate the affected in different markets. Of the total 3,575 shops affected to date, KMC has identified space for a total of 1,470 shops and requested the Sindh chief minister’s approval for land to adjust the rest.
Since the drive has started there has been a substantial loss to multiple stakeholders including the government (in terms of revenue). While there has been no exercise to determine revenue loss for businesses, the loss to the government has been around Rs41.7 million. An estimation of total economic loss should be made.
We have also started rehabilitation work at night, but finances are an issue. The KMC has limited capacity. We just know what that this work needs to be done. The debris needs to be picked. A report needs to be submitted.
The rumours that this drive has been funded by the World Bank need to be dismissed. This is an independent project started because of court directives. The World Bank’s Karachi project is a separate one with the Sindh government.
If a court order comes in favour of the people after the prime minister’s request for review then the work will stop. But because of the extent to which the work has already been done the people probably won’t return to Empress Market. The shopkeepers will now go to a place that shall be there’s by law and no one will be able to move them from there.
Published in Dawn, The Business and Finance Weekly, December 10th, 2018