Stores renting out footpaths, roads to encroachers

RAWALPINDI: Shopkeepers at various business centres and commercial markets in the old parts of the city have started ‘renting out’ roads and footpaths outside their stores to encroachers to supplement their income.

Encroachment in Sadiqabad, Raja Bazaar, Sultanabad, Pindwara Dhoke Kabba, and Muhallah Hukumdar to clear these obstructions have disrupted the traffic and also become serious issues for passersby.

And even though the city administration keeps clearing encroachment, they keep popping back as soon as officials turn their attention to a different part of the city.

To make sure that their side-income remains intact and protected against the anti-encroachment teams of the garrison city, shopkeepers have devised an ingenious method.

At the first sign of trucks and personnel from the Rawalpindi Municipal Corporation’s anti-encroachment team, the shopkeepers shift the stalls into their shops — thereby protecting these encroachers.

As soon as the anti-encroachment officials leave, these stores help to reestablish these stalls.

Sometimes, the shopkeepers connive with officials from the municipal corporation, thus allowing encroachment to thrive by the roadside.

When asked, officials at the municipal corporation accused the shopkeepers of actively promoting encroachment.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 22nd, 2018.

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