Bus operators encroach on footpath of Saddar fire brigade

Karachi: The issue of encroachments and operation of illegal bus terminal in Saddar is being aggravated with time due to inaction of the government agencies and now the emboldened private transporters have encroached on the footpath of Saddar fire brigade.

A section of footpath of the Saddar fire brigade has gone covered with the kiosks of the private transporters’ booking office, while a street on one side of the fire brigade has been converted into illegal bus terminal. All these violation of the laws are being made under the nose of concerned government departments.

Saddar area is the biggest illegal bus terminal of Karachi after Sohrab Goth and hundreds of buses, vans and coaches operate from here for different upcountry destinations. This illegal bus terminal has been working for decades despite strong protests of residents of the area and citizens’ rights organizations.

These illegal bus stands in the area have resulted in chronic traffic jams not only in Saddar but also adjoining busy commercial areas, as not only buses and coaches but also hundreds of taxis and rickshaws are also parked here.

The government has declared the Mansfield Street from the Capri Cinema Square to Lucky Star are one-way road, but instead of better the traffic flow this decision is just facilitating the illegal encroachers including private transporters and roadside vendors providing them more space for their illegal operations. It is said that as a part of the area where illegal bus stands works falls under the jurisdiction of cantonment board the city government could not take any action. If this is true it is sad because the cantonment boards generally do not tolerate any violation of the civic laws.

Illegal encroachments are also creating problems for genuine small traders and shopkeepers, says Mahmood Hamid, president All Pakistan Organisation of Small Traders and Cottage Industries (APOST-CI) Karachi chapter. He said the concerned departments and agencies should remove all illegal bus terminals from Saddar area and also declare the Mansfield Street as two-way road to facilitate citizens. He asked to remove all encroachments from this busy commercial and residential area.

President of Pasban, a citizens’ rights organization, Altaf Shakoor said the illegal bus terminals in Saddar area are not only the cause of traffic jams but families and girl students of the area also face severe problems due to encroached footpaths and presence of anti-social elements including pickpockets and eve-teasers in this crowded area. He asked that the three biggest illegal bus terminals of Karachi, Cantt station terminus, Saddar terminus and Sohrab Goth terminus should be banned. He said entry of inter-city buses, coaches and vans in these areas should be banned to facilitate residents.

Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) leader and ex-MPA Muhammad Yunus Barai also criticized the government agencies for not taking any action against illegal encroachments and bus terminals from Saddar area. He said nowhere in the world encroachers are allowed to operate in the vicinity of fire brigades as all roads and streets around fire brigade areas are purposefully left wide and open to facilitate swift movement of fire tenders during emergencies. He said the encroachment of the footpaths and streets of fire brigade speaks loud and clear about the level of governance, which needs no further comments.

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