Karachi: Encroachments of roads and streets in busy Empress Market area of Saddar Karachi has further intensified as police and municipal administration are not in position to take action against powerful encroachment mafia.
From the opening of New Preedy Street at Saddar Dawakhana to Regal Chowk almost 80precent of road and footpath area are occupied by encroachers leaving too little space for motorists and pedestrians. Crippling traffic jams in the area are routine even in the presence of traffic cops, who do not take any action against the wrong flow of traffic, illegal parking and street obstructions due to encroachment. Recently, during the days of Ashura Muharram the whole Saddar area was vacated from encroachers and on the seventh to tenth of Muharram this otherwise badly clogged areas remained 100percent encroachment free. This shows that the police and municipal administration do have the capacity to remove encroachments from the area, but sadly they do not exercise their powers on normal days to facilitate citizens.
Every days thousands of liters of fuel is wasted due to crippling traffic jams in this busiest area of the city, not only wasting the money of motorists, but also aggravating the air and noise pollution in the vicinity. Due to occupation of footbaths by shopkeepers and vendors pedestrians have to walk on road, resulting in frequent road accidents. However, despite several announcements and press conferences a few months back about the futuristic plan of ‘Pedestrianisation of Saddar’ now the officials in city administration are avoiding commenting on the fate of project. Insiders say the project is practically shelved as some powerful lobbies were against it.
The busy Empress Market area is the heart of Karachi, visited day by hundreds of thousands of commuters, buyers and tourists. The chaotic road discipline and crippling traffic jams in this otherwise central part of the city having many historical buildings create a negative image of the city in the minds of visitors from other parts of the city, as well as, a few foreign tourists who sometimes visit the area. The Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) administrator, Commissioner Karachi, DIG Traffic and Administrator Saddar Town should personally pay a surprise visit to the area to see the intensity of encroachments and mismanagement of traffic and order remedial measures at the earliest. The Pedestrianisation of Saddar project should be revived and physical work on it started without further delay in the larger interest of Karachi and Karachiites.