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Dying business looks to CDA for help

September 12, 2012

ISLAMABAD, Sept 11: Pakistan Railways’ ill health has sounded the death knell for the warehousing business at the Islamabad railway station, which depended on the freight arriving for the factories in the nearby I-9 industrial area.

“Since the freight trains have stopped coming to the station, we are out of business,” moaned a warehouse owner who would not give his name.

And there is no hope for an early revival. Asked for comments on the bleak situation, a Pakistan Railways official said the rising cost of fuel had made some train services unprofitable. “We were left with no alternative but to limit our freight service (to the capital city),” he said.

That, and the general economic slowdown in the country, has made the future of warehouse business bleak. Therefore, the more than 50 people who had invested in the business want the Capital Development Authority to allow them put their warehouse land to some other use.

“But the CDA is reluctant to allow us to convert our plot into any other venture,” one warehouse owner said. “We do not have commercial use in mind, only industrial or office buildings on them,” one warehouse owner told Dawn.

CDA’s rules do not permit such conversions, unless specifically permitted by its Board.

CDA Chairman Farkhand Iqbal, however, sounded encouraging on the issue.

“I am not aware about the policy,” he told Dawn. “But the Board is open to all suggestions and recommendations which may help the business community reduce its losses in I-9 industrial area.”

He said the request for using warehouse plots for other purposes should come “through the appropriate channel”. He meant the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“We are here to support every businessman of the city, especially those of the I-9 industrial area. We have no issues with changing CDA rules to accommodate the businessmen facing hard time,” he added.

After concrete proposals are received in writing, “the CDA Board will respond with positive input,” he assured the business community.