KARACHI - Anti-Encroachment Cells of Karachi Metropolitan Corporation along with the Police has failed to remove illegal roadside stalls in an unsuccessful drive that began on Monday night.

In a joint operation against encroachment, officials of KMC and police along with heavy machinery reached at three separate points of the city including Liaquatabad, Empress Market, Saddar and Maripur Truck Terminal area and tried to remove illegal roadside stalls and concrete cabins. Witnesses said that the drive was initiated during which illegal extensions were removed and reset on the same place again as a massive protest was seen against the encroachments. Officials claimed to have removed at least 400 stalls and suspended the operation due resistance.

Officials also claimed to have arrested some 25 pushcart owners from various localities. Concern departments had decided to remove encroachments at least a month ago but proper action is yet to be seen in many areas after encroachment cell have distributed notices for removal of the illegal stalls and cabins. The decision has been taken after a massive traffic jam owing to encroachments at various main roads of the metropolis. During the operation a large number of people, owners of the stalls gathered at the site and pelted stones on the officials of the Anti-Encroachment Cell, in retaliate police resorted teargas shelling and also used water canon to disperse the protestors.       

Trades of various markets of the city alleged that the congestion was part of the reason for crimes near banks and ATMs. More than 25,000 vendors have set up stalls illegally in 580 major trade centers of the city. Markets such as Saddar, Tariq Road, Hyderi, Bolton Market, Lighthouse, Liaquatabad and Paposh have become a hub for roadside vendors.

This is open secrete that all concern authorities including KMC, police, traffic police and district administration were inchoate in patronizing the encroachment network across the city cashing out on the situation. Sources said that each market had a focal person to collect money from all stall holders and distributing it to concerned departments accordingly. However, a number of citizens were of the view that some relief should be provided to the vendors in the times of spiraling prices adding that they ought to be reallocated in separate empty plots within the city.

When contacted Director KMC Anti Encroachment Cell Bilal Manzar said that the drive against illegal encroachment would be continued till to removal of all illegal roadside stalls or shops. The drive will be forwarded against illegal leases of government land garbed with the help of officials of Land department.  

Meanwhile, Sindh Minister for Information, Archives and Local Government Sharjeel Innam Memon said that the illegal occupation of and encroachments would not be tolerated. “The authorities concerned should immediately start compilation of necessary record of amenity plots in the metropolis so that illegal occupation and encroachments on those amenity plots should be removed and the misuse of amenity plots could be prevented.”

The Minister issued these directives to the authorities concerned while presiding over a meeting with Sindh Secretary Local Government and other officials at his office.

The Minister directed the Secretary and other officials to launch a crack-down against encroachments and misuse of amenity plots, starting with compilation of record of amenity plots in the city.

He said that the amenity plots and parks were allotted for the benefit of people said that it would be utter injustice to the people if they are occupied illegal.

He said that all encroachments on amenity plots should immediately be removed and in case of any resistance form the encroachers, Police should be called in for security.

He further directed Secretary Local Government and Karachi Metropolitan Corporation Administrator and Director General Parks to furnish details on cleared plots during crack-down.