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Friday December 03, 2021

Chaos runs supreme in Raja Bazaar

November 26, 2021

There is perhaps not a Pindiite, who has not, at one time or the other, frequented the lanes of the Raja Bazaar, a commercial hub for all kinds of products. Nevertheless, ask any of them and it is unlikely to come across one who has visited the neighbourhood lately but has not been left shocked at the pitiable state of affairs in this historic market.

“Narrow roads made narrower by illegally parked vehicles; cars, rickshaws, mismanaged water pools, waste, and pedestrians jostling for space in the crowded area moving to by lanes that are also congested,” says Fakhar Imam.

“These are common sights here. Dump your garbage in the middle of the road or park your car at the no-parking zone, no one will tell you anything, clearly illustrating the joke that law enforcement has been reduced to zero in this area,” adds Fakhar Imam.

“Garbage management is a critical area of concern. Scrap items from the shops lie scattered on the road, un-cleaned almost a week. The shopkeepers clean their shops and dispose of the unnecessary scrap. The Municipal Corporation workers do not clear it, unless a bribe, a minimum of Rs50 to a maximum of Rs200 per shop, is paid. It is a different type of Kharaat,” explains Mehdi Shah, a shopkeeper in Bara Market.

On the other hand, a senior Corporation official objected to the use of the term bribe and said it was just a custom, almost a ritual, that had descended through generations. It is a fact though that unless the amount is paid, the workers do not clear the garbage, creating embarrassment for the shoppers.

“Even the swelling population and the declining quality of life have not prompted the residents of the area to shift to the better localities of the city. The only thing that has undergone change is the rapid increase in transport. The locals of the area prefer to stay where they are living and enjoy the transformation. However, as the road space has shrunk, in most cases people can actually reach the destinations faster by walking,” says Haider Abbas Rizvi.

“It is difficult to believe today that there was once a time when we used to play cricket and badminton on the lanes of the area. The fast economic growth and consequent congestion resulted when traders set up business here. They get stock at cheap prices from some other cities and sell it at a margin that works for the citizens too,” says Nayyar Hussain.

However, since the city authorities do not seem to have any plans for infrastructural and systemic improvements here, as corroborated by the senior official spoken to, shoppers therefore road users have little choice but to bear the consequences of the rising population followed by unplanned growth.