Political flags, Pathara return to Saddar

Karachi: Due to poor follow up of civic agencies roadside encroachments called Patharas have returned back to Saddar, especially at the junction of New Preedy Street and CDGK car parking plaza creating nuisance for citizens as well as crippling traffic jams.

In recent part, rangers had successfully removed all encroachments from Saddar area, but the corrupt officials in civic agencies have managed them giving a new lease of life, allowing them to occupy New Preedy Street from Saddar up to CDGK car parking plaza up to afternoon and whole Saddar area from afternoon to evening when office hours are over.

A couple of vehicles of civic agencies are seen parked in front of the Empress Market for removing Patharas but they purposefully ignore hundreds of Patharas at New Preedy Street and surrounding areas. Moreover, the flags of the main ruling party of Sindh have again returned in Saddar area, presumably to disdain officials from taking action against Pathara holders who punctually pay Bhatta.

Hamid Mehmood, president of All Pakistan Association of Small Traders and Cottage Industries Karachi chapter Hamid Mehmood said in the bhatta cultural of Karachi hoisting of political flags in markets and residential areas means now that party would handle all such affairs in the locality. He said different outfits have domino of bhatta collection in different areas and no other outfit interferes in these areas, till ‘conquering’ them.

He said illegal encroachments from Karachi including Saddar area could not be removed permanently, because Patharas are important component of bhatta collection industry. He said till FIRs are lodged against encroachers and they are arrested and presented before courts this cat and mouse play of encroachment removal would continue.

He said the cleanliness condition of market areas is very pathetic. In many localities including Teen Hatti, Jamshed Road and Nagan Chworangi gutters overflow causing immense problems for pedestrians. He said even the chocked gutter line of Preedy Street in front of CDGK car parking plaza could not be opened even after passage of two years, which shows that the so-called cleanliness drive is no more than a hollow slogan.

Nasir Mansoor, deputy general secretary of National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) said it is the responsibility of the government to keep roads and streets free from encroachments. He said special open markets like Jumma Bazaars could be established so that small vendors can earn their livelihood. However, illegal encroachments of roads and streets should not be tolerated. He also demanded to improve public transport system of Karachi to cope with road congestion and traffic jams.

Ahsan Bari Advocate, President of Voice Against Corruption said it is sad fact that corruption is very deep-rooted in government departments including KMC and KWSB. This is why the government officials are not serious to solve the civic issues. He said bhatta collection from vendors and Pathara holders is a lucrative industry in Karachi and the corrupt bureaucracy does not want to close this industry which is so beneficial for them. He suggested that citizens on community level should take steps for removal of encroachments and better cleanliness of roads and streets.

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