Encroachments: Pathara sellers feel the heat, as car sellers enjoy impunity

KARACHI: Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMCD) has finally began much delayed anti-encroachment drive in the city to relief of citizens; however, this drive is mainly focused against small roadside vendors, while a powerful mafia of second-hand car sellers who occupy one of the busiest roads of the city and their footpaths to display their cars still enjoy impunity.

In recent week hundreds of encroachments of roadside vendors called Pathara-wallas in local language have been removed in Empress Market, Saddar, Safora Chowrangi, Main University Road and other areas; however, dozens of secondhand car dealers who occupy one-third area of roads and whole footpaths in busy areas like New M A Jinnah Road and Khalid bin Waleed Road, have been left untouched, though the nature of their encroachments is more severe and cause troubling traffic jams during rush hours.

Two to three lanes and whole footpaths of New M A Jinnah Road are occupied by the secondhand car dealers. In fact when this road was build its service lanes were not constructed and instead very wide footpaths were made on area designated for service lanes so that the car dealers may easily park their cars for display on these footpaths. The city administration fully knows about this encroachment issue and in past it was also announced to declare the New M A Jinnah Road as charged parking area to discourage road and footpath encroachments, but this decision was withdrawn even before its implementation.

To make the anti-encroachment drive successful it needs an even-handed approach and all encroachers be they selling an orange for Rs5 on a pushcart or Pathara on encroached road or selling a car for Rs500000 on an encroached road or footpath should be treated equally. This just and even-handed approach would certainly help in solving the chronic issue of encroachment in Karachi successfully.

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