* Plaza built for Rs 700 million instead of Rs 350 million
* Commuters say its difficult to park cars in plaza, walk to market
By Afnan Khan
LAHORE: Traders and visitors of the Liberty Market have not only declared the parking plaza near the roundabout a futile exercise to cope with traffic and parking issues, but also alleged the government of large-scale corruption in the project.
Qaumi Tajir Ittehad Chairman and Liberty Market President Safdar Ali Butt told Daily Times that he had documented proof that the government compelled their own men to build the plaza for more than Rs 700 million instead of its real cost of Rs 350 million.
He said that it was also a business venture aimed to tarnish other businesses around, as there were around 80 shops in the plaza and the shop owners would occupy around 80 parking slots out of the total 300 parking slots, while a large number of the remaining slots will be filled by customers of the shops in the plaza. This means that it will provide little help to the commuters who are in the Liberty Market to shop.
Butt said that the Liberty Market owners have severe resentments on the move by the government because they have built a plaza for the public, but they were actually killing the businesses around the area while sitting in the same building.
He also mentioned that the plaza administration was overcharging the customers by charging them Rs 20 per hour for parking their vehicles, which was far higher than the given rate of the district government of Lahore.
Market Traders Union Vice President Amjad Zaheer also told Daily Times that the construction of the plaza was not only a futile exercise, but it was also causing traffic jams in the area due to further activity in and around it instead of providing a solution for traffic and parking problems.
He said that the market association has held meetings with the government authorities and they are expected to meet Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif soon in order to request him to allow construction of a plaza opposite the current plaza, as decided during the Pervaiz Elahi government.
Zaheer said that the traders had faced strong opposition from the government for demanding construction of that plaza in the past, so they may consider building two basements in the current parking lot of the market, which will increase the capacity of the parking lot from 450 to 1,200 cars.
He said that constructing basements would not be a permanent solution for the traffic jams in the market, but it would still ease up some of the load.
Commuters also told Daily Times that it was not possible for them to park their cars in the parking plaza and then take a long walk to the market.
They said the situation becomes risky and hectic especially for kids and old people accompanying the families who are visiting the market.
The Punjab and local government authorities have constructed the plaza with the given amount of Rs 500 million with the aim to cope with traffic-related problems faced by the visitors and the traffic jams, which could also cause security problems for the market – Dailytimes