RAWALPINDI: Owners of shopping malls and high-rise buildings in Saddar area have converted basements of these premises into shops instead of parking for visitors but it seems that Rawalpindi Cantonment Board (RCB) has not noticed this even though it is illegal.

There are more than 30 high-rise buildings in Saddar which is the main commercial hub of the cantonment.

According to building by-laws, owners of commercial plazas are required to allocate their basements for parking. But, there is not a single plaza in Saddar, where a basement has been established.

As a result, visitors face problems while trying to find a parking space. Some of them park vehicles in and around the Cantonment General Hospital blocking the way for ambulances that could lead to a tragedy anytime.

Others park their vehicles in streets along Bank Road, Adamjee Road and Chota Bazaar.

Lack of parking space in commercial areas leads to serious and frequent quarrels among shoppers and shop owners but the irony is that these quarrels are over land that belongs to the government.

Shop owners put up poles, chains and locks in a bid to mark their turfs.

A senior official of RCB told Dawn that the civic body was reluctant to take action against those who violate building by-laws due to pressure from traders.

He said that traders threaten to go on strike if any action is launched against mall owners.

He said that a survey had been launched in cantonment areas to inspect building by-laws and the report would be submitted to the Cantonment Executive Officer Imran Gulzar soon.

He said time had been given to building owners to follow building by-laws and use basements for parking, adding that apart from parking, building owners had also been asked to adopt fire safety measures.

He said that the civic body planned to launch action against encroachments in Saddar area to create more space for parking. Two parking areas had been allocated on Haider Road and Bank Road, he added.

When contacted, Rawalpindi Cantonment Traders Association General Secretary Zafar Qadri said that we did not oppose any action against those who violated the building by-laws.

However, he said that there were some black sheep in the RCB who gave relaxation to violators of building by-laws, adding that there was dire need to improve the parking areas so maximum number of people could visit Saddar.

Published in Dawn, October 3rd, 2022

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