Karachi: Saddar Empress Market area is once again chocked with encroachments of vendors called Patharas, affecting smooth flow of traffic and creating problems for pedestrians.
The Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) assisted by police has removed these Patharas many times but after a couple of days these Patharas always reappear, showing lack of planning and weak writ of law on the part of government. Insiders see this farce as a Bhatta war. They say this areas generates hundreds of thousands of rupees in the head of Bhatta every week and no stakeholder is willing to let go this huge amount.
The busy area of Empress Market Saddar is replete with civic problems. Dozens of illegal intra-city bus stands operate from this area and they occupy many roads and footpaths. The historical Jahangir Park is in shambles and its one part with broken grill is occupied by private public transporters, who have set up an illegal terminus of minibus of G-3 route. The gutter line from the City government car parking plaza to the start of New Preedy Street at Saddar Dawakhana is chocked and overflowing gutter water has already damaged many parts of this road. Encroachments of tea shops, push carts and Chingchis has blocked the entrance of New Preedy Street at Saddar Dawakhana but who cares.
To make this area, a pedestrian-free zone, as per the vision of Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad Khan, it needs banning parking in the whole area and simultaneously making functional the multi-billion car parking plaza project. The second phase of re-routing of public transport has already become overdue and it should be implemented without further delay.
The encroachments and traffic chaos of Saddar area is the test-case for the KMC, police and Governor House, and if they continued sustainable efforts to purge this area from illegal parking, encroachments, and unlawful bus terminals, this successful experiment could also be replicated in other congested areas of Karachi to give the city a civic urban look, it truly deserves.