Traders reluctant to shift main markets out of city

Published January 25, 2021
The crowded Ganjmandi market in Rawalpindi caters to the needs of the entire tehsil as well as neighbouring Islamabad. This wholesale market trades in food stuff and other daily-use items. — Photo by Mohammad Asim
The crowded Ganjmandi market in Rawalpindi caters to the needs of the entire tehsil as well as neighbouring Islamabad. This wholesale market trades in food stuff and other daily-use items. — Photo by Mohammad Asim

RAWALPINDI: Traders in the garrison city are reluctant to shift grain and other main markets out of the city to the sides of the proposed Ring Road, saying Punjab government has failed to devise a plan to accommodate them in its economic zones along the new artery.

The government wants to shift all main markets out of the city to reduce traffic congestion. Heavy traffic will also be not allowed to enter the city areas.

However, traders are of the view that the government has failed to devise a proper plan to shift the main markets along Ring Road.

“Will it be possible that traders travel to their new workplace at Rawat and back on a daily basis? We have asked the government to allocate residential areas along Ring Road so we will not have to commute between the city and the markets,” said Mohammad Saleem, a wholesale trader in Gunjmandi.

Say govt has failed to devise plan to accommodate them in economic zones along proposed Ring Road

He said: “Who will purchase plots for the construction of offices, godowns and houses in the new market area as it will require too much investment.”

Mohammad Akram, a trader at Narankari Bazaar, said transport charges would increase and there would be new surge in inflation.

When contacted, Rawalpindi Anjuman-i-Tajiran President Sharjeel Mir said the Ring Road project was good for economic activities but there were some resentments among the traders.

He said traders wanted that the government should not involve any mafia to purchase land for the establishment of the new markets.

“If the government purchases land and sells it to traders on easy installments for construction of godowns, offices and residential units, the traders would go to the new site without any hesitation,” he said.

He said for the shifting of main markets away from the city, the provincial government would have to take on board all local traders’ organisations instead of the organisation of elite industrialists and businessmen who had nothing to do with the local markets.

Mr Mir said it would be difficult to leave the century-old business centre of Raja Bazaar and adjoining markets without any comprehensive plan.

On the other hand, the local administration started the process for shifting goods transporters outside the city and asked them to purchase land along the Ring Road.

However, the transporters said they would shift to the new site when the markets are shifted outside the city. They also expressed doubts about availability of land and the lack of mechanism in this regard.

Meanwhile, Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA) Director General Chaudhry Maqbool Ahmed on Sunday held a meeting with the officials of Goods Carriers Association Ganjmandi and discussed transfer of over 250 truck terminals from the densely populated areas of the city to Rawalpindi Ring Road.

The RDA chief said after completion of Ring Road, entry of heavy traffic in the city would be banned and all goods transporters would be shifted to Rawat and CPEC route at Hakla.

He said more than 200 acres near Rawat would be available for goods transporters and 400 acres near Hakla for truck terminals and warehouses.

Shakeel Qureshi, president Goods Carriers Association, said the presence of truck transporters in densely populated areas of the city had created problems for transporters and the timely delivery of goods to the business community.

He said 50 to 70 containers, 100 to 150 10-wheeler trucks and 400 to 500 Hino vehicles enter the city daily.

He said 1,000 kanals should be provided for truck terminals and warehouses on Ring Road and the width of the roads should be 120 feet.

Mr Qureshi said apart from electricity, gas, water and telephone facilities, workshops, residential complexes and shopping centers should also be set up at the truck depots on Ring Road.

He said all truck terminals had been established before the formation of Pakistan and have now become very congested.

Published in Dawn, January 25th, 2021

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