• Says model to be replicated on other roads in Raja Bazaar
• Traffic police seeks business community’s help to eradicate encroachments to improve traffic flow
RAWALPINDI: The district administration has decided to make Iqbal Road, also known as Trunk Bazaar, a model road free from encroachments to be replicated in other parts of Raja Bazaar.
This was announced by Deputy Commissioner (DC) Shoaib Ali in a meeting with traders of Raja Bazaar and other markets on Friday. The meeting was attended by Central Traders Association Punjab President Sharjeel Mir, Tahir Taj Bhatti, Saleem Pervaiz Butt, Sheikh Asif Akram and others.
The traders’ delegation visited the deputy commissioner office to apprised him of the problems being faced by shopkeepers in the main commercial hub of the city.
They said encroachments had made the lives of shopkeepers and the visitors difficult and due to this less people were visiting the bazaars for shopping. They said there was no space allocated for parking and the visitors remained stuck in traffic jams for hours.
The district administration should launch an anti-encroachment drive to clear roads and footpaths of encroachers, they said, adding that in the last four years the government had promised to construct parking plazas in Raja Bazaar and other main markets but no progress was made in this regard.
Vendors and stallholders have encroached roads and footpaths, leaving no room for visitors and traders to move around, the delegation members complained.
The deputy commissioner said the district administration was working on improving the condition of main roads and footpaths in downtown area which would soon be cleared of all kinds of permanent and temporary encroachments.
He said in the initial plan the administration wanted to convert Iqbal Road from Fawara Chowk to Committee Chowk into a model road which would be cleared of encroachments. This model will be replicated in all markets and bazaars in the city.
He asked the traders’ association to help the administration clear encroachments from the bazaars and point out the black sheep among them who were creating hardships for visitors and shopkeepers alike.
The traders assured the administration that they would help if the local authorities initiated action to clear encroachments from the bazaars and provide ample space for parking.
Talking toDawn, the Central Traders Association Punjab President Sharjeel Mir said businesses had been destroyed due to this lingering issue.
“We have been highlighting the issue of encroachments for the last 20 years but the problem has not been solved,” he said, adding that in the meeting with the deputy commissioner, the traders pointed out parking spaces on Hamilton Road, Namak Mandi and Bohar Bazaar in front of Lal Haveli.
Traffic police seek traders’ help
On the other hand, the city traffic police (CTP) has asked the business community for assistance in eradicating encroachments to improve traffic condition as the police appeared helpless before encroachers who often harass shoppers and even traffic wardens.
Chief Traffic Officer (CTO) Taimoor Khan met Central Anjuman Traders Association President Malik Shahid Ghafoor Paracha and other office-bearers and discussed the issue, a spokesman for the traffic police said.
Concerns were expressed by the business community on the traffic situation in the city on which the CTO assured them that efforts would be made to resolve all issues related to the business community as soon as possible.
The CTO said the traffic police were trying their best to improve the flow of traffic in the city, especially in markets. However, he added that traffic flow could be improved only by eliminating encroachments with the cooperation of the business community.
On Tuesday, the traffic police made an attempt to remove a vendor from outside Benazir Bhutto Hospital (BBH) for causing disruption to traffic on Murree Road, but he as well as a shopkeeper offered resistance and hurled threats at the police personnel.
A traffic police official, Shafqat Abbas, lodged an FIR with the Banni police, saying that he was on duty at old Naz Cinema Chowk on Tuesday night when he observed traffic congestion on Murree Road.
He said after a traffic warden with a fork lifter moved towards BBH, he observed that a vendor was blocking the road.
When the vendor was asked to clear the road, he argued with the traffic staff and refused to remove the pushcart saying he had been paying ‘monthly’ (bribe) to the Tehsil Municipal Administration (TMA).
He said after the traffic warden tried to remove his cart, a shopkeeper identified as Imran, a resident of Bagh Sardaran, started arguing with the traffic staff. The shopkeeper used abusive language and hurled threats at the traffic warden, the FIR added.
While the traffic warden was shifting the pushcart to the Banni police station, the vendor and shopkeeper managed to escape.
When a shopkeeper near Banni Chowk was asked why he had allowed a fish seller to set up his stall outside his shop on the road, he said: “The money I am getting from the vendor helps me pay the heavy rent of the shop.”
Published in Dawn, December 10th, 2022