Encroachers still occupy footpaths, roadsides in Raja Bazaar

Published February 23, 2021
Encroachment at Rawalpindi’s Bara Market has gone unnoticed for several years. — White Star
Encroachment at Rawalpindi’s Bara Market has gone unnoticed for several years. — White Star

RAWALPINDI: Despite claim made by Rawalpindi Metropolitan Corporation (RMC) to get main bazaars and markets cleared of all types of encroachments during its ongoing anti-encroachment drive, footpaths and roadsides in Raja Bazaar are still occupied by stallholders and other encroachers.

Unchecked encroachments on roadsides and footpaths by shopkeepers and stallholders are creating problems for pedestrians.

During a visit to the downtown, it was observed that shopkeepers and stallholders in Raja Bazaar, Bara Market, Iqbal Road, Jinnah Road, Liaquat Road, Kashmiri Bazaar, Namakmandi, Gunjmandi, Mochi Bazaar, Bohar Bazaar, College Road, Gowalmandi Road, Jamia Masjid Road, Circular Road, Banni Chowk and adjoining markets have encroached on footpaths.

The extremely busy and congested Raja Bazaar from Fowara Chowk to Dingi Khoi presents the sorry state of affairs as shopkeepers have displayed goods on pavements while vendors set up stalls on the edges of roads, leaving no room for pedestrians.

RMC claims to get all bazaars and markets cleared of encroachments during its ongoing drive

People visiting the markets complained about the indifference attitude of RMC and said there was no space on footpaths to walk.

They said it was difficult for them to visit Sabzi Mandi, Urdu Bazaar, Sarafa Bazaar, Bara Bazaar and adjoining areas because of the encroachments.

Mohammad Safdar, a shopper at Trunk Bazaar, said that roadsides and footpaths were encroached by shopkeepers and vendors and it was government’s responsibility to keep footpaths clear of encroachments.

“Stallholders, not shopkeepers, have encroached on footpaths with the help of the municipal administration,” alleged Suhail Ahmed, a shopkeeper in Bara Market.

He said that shopkeepers displayed some of their items on prominent places just to attract buyers.

Sajid Khan, a vendor at Iqbal Road, said they were paying rent to shopkeepers to set up stalls in front of their shops. He said stallholders paid rent on a daily basis to shopkeepers and the rate depended on the location. He alleged that municipal administration officials were getting bribe from the stallholders.

When contacted, Rawalpindi Metropolitan Corporation Regulation Officer Tauseef Malik said the RMC had launched a drive against encroachments and was trying to remove all hurdles from footpaths and roads.

“What can we do? The RMC cleared all footpaths in Raja Bazaar but the stallholders made a comeback after the operation,” he said.

About the allegation that the RMC staff was involved in taking bribe, he said it was a baseless allegation.

However, he said as the stallholders were earning a livelihood, sometimes the RMC officials ignored encroachments made by them.

Published in Dawn, February 23rd, 2021

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