Free hand for street encroachers on holidays

Karachi: The drive to remove encroachments from busy roads and footpaths in Karachi has been continuing lukewarmly; however, in many commercial and market areas, vendors have been given free hand to occupy roads and footpaths on holidays.

Normally, anti-encroachment staff is present from 10:00am to 4:00pm before main Empress Market in Saddar areas, and vendors called Pathara walls do business on side streets and opening of Main Preedy Street. However, when anti-encroachment staff goes home at about 4:00pm, the vendors occupy the roads and footpaths everywhere.

However, on Saturdays and Sundays, the vendors are allowed to do business on roads and footpaths even in front of the main Empress Market building. Presently, the area has been teeming with flags of political parties, which is considered a silent message to police and anti-encroachment staff not to cross their limits. It is an open secret that besides corrupt policemen and KMC staffers, crooked political elements are the third important pillar of powerful encroachment mafia.

Strangely, the government plans of bus rerouting in Saddar, pedestrianisation of Saddar and removing illegal shops around the historical building of Empress Market to revive it as a main tourist attraction of Karachi are all in limbo due to huge pressure of the encroachment mafia and their supporters in political and administrative quarters. It is said that the Governor House wants to get the plans of bus rerouting, pedestrianisation of Saddar and removing illegal markets around the Empress Market completed on fast-track basis but the bureaucracy at lower level is not extending required cooperation.

However, removal of encroachments from Karachi’s roads, streets and footpaths needs serious attention of the higher authorities and they should ensure that the related lingering projects are completed as per their planned timeline as this is the issue related to public interest and it will further help in making Karachi a more civilized and disciplined city.

The Karachi administration need to ensure the presence of anti-encroachment staff in Saddar from 10:00am to 10:00pm, seven-days-a-week, if it really wants to improve their governance image in this mega city.