Karachi: Saddar is one of the most busy market areas of Karachi; however, due to clogged streets and roads, many people find it inconvenient for shopping and leisure visiting. The government has been planning for long to declare this beautiful tourist attraction area as ‘no parking zone’ with ‘pedestrian only’ status for the Empress Market and its surrounding streets, but this decision is yet to be implemented due to bureaucratic hurdles.
Sindh Governor House and Karachi Commissioner House are amongst the staunchest supporters are making Saddar ‘no parking zone’, even some projects have already been approved and funded in this regard, but a powerful lobby of the owners of Saddar, Bohri Bazaar, Abdullah Haroon Road and Regal Chowk markets are opposing these schemes and the government so far has bowed down to this wishes and whims of these powerful lobbies instead of take firm action in the larger public interest.
Interestingly, making Saddar no parking zone and pedestrian-only area would double and triple the income of same shopkeepers as in whole world affluent buyers shop in markets where there is not traffic jam and pavements and streets are wide and free enough to move easily. Saddar could attract hundreds of thousands of families to buy from its markets if these families feel that this area is safe for children and family members. No one likes their families shopping in highly clogged, chaotic and traffic undisciplined areas.
Making Saddar no parking zone would also ensure optimal use of the Saddar car parking plaza, providing handsome revenue for the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation. The KMC also needs to utilized its modern two-storied shopping mall on the ground and first floor of the car parking plaza, which also could fetch millions of rupees in rent every month.
Historical building of Empress Market needs urgent uplift. All shabby markets constructed around it must be razzed and the Empress Market itself should be facilitating shopping area for the visitors. Grocery, fish and meat markets from it should be shifted somewhere else and only gift shops, flower shops, banks, telecommunication outlets, standard eateries, coffee shops and gift shops, etc, be allowed to open in the market, making it a memorable place to visit.
An overhead bridge should be erected to connect the revamped Empress Market compound to the Jahangir Park, which should also be uplifted as the most modern park of the city, with latest amusement facilities for children and families. Illegal bus terminals in this area should also be removed on priority.
The Governor House, Commissioner House, KMC, Local Government Department, Cantonment Board and other stakeholders should have a vision to see the Saddar-Empress market area as the most modern urban tourist attraction of Karachi with all urban facilities of shopping, leisure and recreation available there.