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November 6, 2018

Thousands caught in gridlock as yet another anti-encroachment drive starts in Saddar


November 6, 2018

Authorities on Monday initiated an extensive operation to remove encroachments from the Saddar area of the city, Geo News reported.

The Karachi Metropolitan Corporation’s anti-encroachments personnel, along with K-Electric workers, began clearing out the land in front of the Passport Office. The crackdown also started around the Empress Market and Parking Plaza. Heavy contingents of police and Rangers also took part in the drive.

Encroachments, it was reported, could still be seen at various spots in Saddar despite the Supreme Court’s orders to the mayor to have them removed. On October 27, a bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar, had issued orders while hearing a case at the Supreme Court’s Karachi registry against the land mafia in the city.

During the hearing, attended by Mayor Waseem Akhtar and Ameer Sheikh, the additional inspector-general of police (AIG) for Karachi, Justice Nisar had asked the city police chief if he was going to remove the encroachments.

“Will you tell us your plan regarding the removal of illegal encroachments in the city?” the top judge had inquired, to which, Sheikh had said: “We are ready to cooperate.” The mayor Karachi had told the court that more than 70 per cent of the Empress Market had been cleared.

To this, the top judge had remarked that areas around the Empress Market also needed to be cleared. “You do not need permission from anyone else,; the court has given you the order.” Assuring the court, Akhtar had said: “We will completely clear out Saddar.”

Back in May 2018, a similar operation was carried out; however, the encroachments remained in place. Traffic jamThe operation led to a massive traffic jam in the Saddar, II Chundrigar, PIDC and the adjoining areas. Mostly people returning home from offices were stuck in the traffic jam.

Three-phase action

Mayor Akhtar said action against encroachments in the city’s most important commercial area, Saddar, started on Monday and it would be completed in three phases, our correspondent added.

He said all stakeholders had jointly initiated it under the orders of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, he said, adding that the citizens would soon see the Saddar area in its original shape.

Akhtar said the encroachers were warned before the start of the operation to remove their encroachments and cooperate with the administration if they did not want to suffer any loss. KMC staffers removed more than 100 shops, hundreds of pushcarts and roadside stalls from pavements in Saddar and the surrounding areas.

Action was taken on Daudpota Road, Zaib-un-Nisa Street, Mensfield Street, Passport Office, New Preedy Street, Empress Market and near Regal Chowk by 400 officials with the help of the district administration, Rangers, police, cantonment board, solid waste management board, SSGC and K-Electric. Four teams were made each comprising officials from these departments and law enforcement agencies.

Metropolitan Commissioner Dr Syed Saif ur Rehman said footpaths were meant for use by pedestrians and no encroachments were allowed there. In the second phase of the operation, all encroachments adjacent to shops in Saddar would be removed and in the third phase the Empress Market would be restored to its original shape after removing the encroachments in and around it.

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