Empress Market area becomes ‘Pathara bazaar’

Karachi: After a brief period of a few weeks when the administration had successfully removed roadside stalls of vendors from the Empress Market Saddar, now the whole area has once again turned into a ‘Pathara bazaar’, resulting in traffic jams and problems of pedestrians due to streets and footpaths illegally occupied by vendors.

The Empress Market area is the main hub of public transport of the city. At least 60percent of all city public transport routes pass through this area, besides hundreds of thousands of motorists use this area daily. However, fifty to sixty percent of the roads and footpaths of this area are occupied by vendors and pushcart sellers illegally. Traffic police are posted in the area but they do nothing to remove illegal bus stops from the area. For example, there is an illegal terminus of G3 minibus at the Jahangir Park and the transporters even park their minibuses inside the park through its broken grill, but the traffic police do not take any action to remove this illegal bus terminal.

The issue of wrong traffic flow is severe in the area and all types of vehicles run free in any direction, right or wrong, while the traffic police playing the role of a silent spectator. This wrong flow of traffic could be witnessed at the mouth of New Preedy Street at Saddar Dawakhana.

In the past the government has announced schemes of traffic reengineering, rerouting of public transport, and Pedestrianisation of Saddar but none of them even initiated. All these much talked schemes were silently shelved after initial announcement with fanfare.

Another big failure of the governance in this area is the largest car parking plaza constructed by the city government many years ago at the cost of hundreds of millions of rupees but it is still idle due to poor implementation of policies. Sadly, dozens of vehicles could be seen parked outside the shops of New Preedy Street in front of this big car parking plaza.

It is said that at least 10000 illegal Patharas, roadside stalls, vendor pushcarts and other businesses including those of intercity bus operators run in whole Saddar area including Empress Market, Bohri Bazaar, Jahangir Park, Birds Market, Regal Chowk, Abdullah Road, Zaibun Nissa Street, Saddar post office, New Preedy, Zainab Market, Fire Brigade station, Saddar bus Adda, Lucky Star and surrounding areas, each paying from Rs200 to Rs500 Bhatta extortion per day. This is why no administration ever afford to remove illegal encroachments from the area as bribe stakes are simply too big. However, they are ordinary citizens – motorists, commuters and pedestrians – who pay the price of this mega encroachment business in busy Saddar area.

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