Lahore in grip of road encroachment mafia

Lahore in grip of road encroachment mafia

LAHORE: Illegal business activities by the encroachment mafia are swarming up on service roads and footpaths of the metropolis under the nose of the government, which has no plan in the near future to lunch a meaningful anti-encroachment campaign to end the menace for good, Media has learnt.

Sources in the office of District Coordination Officer (DCO) Noorul Amin Mengal told Daily Times that the last anti-encroachment campaign began in the first quarter of 2011 in the areas adjoining The Mall, including Hall Road, but it was dropped midway after a few days because of resentment from the business community.“Now, the campaign cannot be started until Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif passes direct orders for it, and so far he has not passed any directions in this regard,” an official said.

Taking advantage of the situation, roadside vendors and hawkers are doing businesses on service roads and footpaths with the connivance of shopkeepers who provide them with space in front of their shops and charge them for it.Such activities are marring the beauty of the city, and people experience stress and anxiety while passing through markets and bazaars for shopping or reaching their workplaces.

The worst example of encroached areas is Hall Road, a famous electronics market, where mobile phone dealers have set up booths and counters outside shops. Moreover, it is very difficult to enter shops or cross the road, as almost 40 percent of the road space is being used for parking. The remaining space has been occupied by hundreds of hawkers, vendors and stallholders.

The footpaths and roads of the markets in almost all localities, including The Mall and Hall Road, have been cut to half by these encroachers, and it is hard for people to even walk into the bazaars due to the congestion created by the encroachment mafia, and no action is being taken against them.All the anti-encroachment drives started in the past in Lahore had always been dropped midway by the Punjab government and the City District Government Lahore (CDGL) due to the pressure of the business community, which loves to sell things on the footpaths.

It is the height of negligence that such illegal activities are being carried out openly, and it is well in the knowledge of the government officials concerned.Sources said that the CDGL and town municipal administrations (TMAs) could not take action against encroachers until the chief minister issues fresh orders for launching an operation against them, as the anti-encroachment campaign was frozen last year and had not been resumed since then due to the pressure of the traders’ unions and their elected representatives in the Punjab Assembly.

“Now, the government machinery is removing obstacles in the way of construction and expansion of Ferozepur Road for running the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS), and there is no time or resources to launch any anti-encroachment campaign to clear the mess from other roads,” said an official, asking not to be named.When contacted, Tariq Zaman, staff officer in the DCO office who is tasked to supervise anti-encroachment activities, told Daily Times that no anti-encroachment campaign was on the cards in the near future, adding that it might be launched next month in some parts of the city. – Dailytimes