KARACHI, May 23: Steel cabins have been placed in almost all parts of the city over recent years, leaving little space for pedestrians and motorists to negotiate their way through.
These steel cabins are running different businesses — from grocery to fast food, to tyre shop and to books — with sales counters of most of them facing roads and main streets falling under the jurisdiction of all the 18 town municipal administrations as well as the City District Government Karachi.
Some cabin-holders have placed chairs and tables for clients on whatever little space they could illegally occupy, while customers of most other cabins remained exposed to the risk of being hit by vehicles.
A couple of cabins selling cooked fish on University Road, near a turning of Hassan Square, have illegally occupied an adjacent footpath by placing tables and chairs there to serve their customers. Customers park their vehicles along the footpath, thereby blocking the way of other motorists who wanted to go straight or those proceeding towards Federal B Area and North Nazimabad via Gulshan-i-Iqbal's Block 13-D/1 and Yasinabad.
Such cabins have also been set up near the steps of pedestrian bridges, compelling the pedestrians descending from the bridge to turn to the road in the absence of the footpath.
When Karachi Administrator Fazal-ur-Rehman was recently asked about the fast-vanishing footpaths, he held town municipal administrations responsible. “Town nazims or administrators are more powerful than the city nazim or administrators under the Sindh Local Government Ordinance-2001,” he said. However, he could not give any satisfactory reply when he was informed that a large number of cabins also existed on thoroughfares falling under the jurisdiction of the CDGK.
More than 500 pedestrians were killed in road accidents in the city in 2010 alone while the number of jaywalkers injured or maimed in the accidents is much higher.
When the attention of a provincial legislator, who is currently looking after the affairs of Gulshan-i-Iqbal Town, was drawn to the last year accidents of pedestrians, he said that the Sindh High Court had already ordered their removal from footpaths. He added that arrangements were being made to shift all the cabins from footpaths to the 'hawkers' zone'.
He said the city government had been requested to allocate land for setting up a 'hawkers zone'. As soon as the land was made available for the proposed zone, all cabins would be shifted from on footpaths to the zone.