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September 15, 2019

The markets where pedestrian is the king

Islamabad

September 15, 2019

Hours of shopping madness takes place each day and draws over hundreds of visitors to Raja Bazaar and its surrounding bazaars like Barra Market, Sabzi Mandi. These are undoubtedly the biggest markets outside the main market shops.

“Imagine a vast pavement space and road occupied by stallholders from that area. The idea of renting open space on rent in Pindi was originally conceived to provide items of daily use to the poor at a reasonable price but now even the elite class visits these bazaars. Essential commodities are said to be sold at economical rates here but the real situation is just the opposite,” says Shaiq Hussain.

“A trip around these bazaars during the weekend of the sale will allow you see for yourself that that how the marketplace is transformed, where the pedestrian is the king and not the car owner. Here it is possible to buy and sell everything and anything, antiques, clothing, artificial jewellery, decorative objects, steel and plastic wares, toys, furniture, ornaments, crockery etc. Bazaars start at 8 am and go on until 11pm,” says Ghulam Abbas.

“In Kashmiri Bazaar, fry fish shops keep gas cylinders on the pavements, photo copy machines are also seen there, thus making it impossible to walk,” says social activist Hashim Raza. “Notably, the entire stretch from Fawara Chowk to the Habib Bank Chowk has been illegally occupied by the vendors. Regular traffic jams have become a common feature,” he adds.

“Illegal encroachments are a cause of concern for us. The entire walking path is occupied by shopkeepers by placing their electrical and gas appliances like geysers, heaters, cooking stoves, washing machines etc. Even vendors have left no space for the passers-by,” says Walayat Ali.

Akmal Hussain complains: “shopkeepers have encroached around 20-feet space outside the shops at the stretch from the main Liaquat Road up to the Bara Market and Sabzi Mandi. Some have either displayed goods outside their shops while others have given the space on rent to a private vendor.”

MC officials claim that they have tried to remove the encroachments several times, but things are back to square one. “We do keep a check on encroachments, but shopkeepers just don't budge,” they say.

Raja Bazaar has turned into the most congested market of the city owing to massive encroachments on both sides of the road. Several drives in the market areas have not yielded results. “The shopkeepers are responsible for the problem because first of all they put their material on the road and then allow other roadside vendors to sell their products in front of their shops for earning extra money,” says Talib-ul-Moula, an official from the TMA.

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