LAHORE: The Fort Road food street, a new venue selected the City District Government Lahore (CDGL) after the unofficial closure of Gowalmandi Food Street, is almost ready to open but CDGL officials and some of the stake holders are dragging their feet and it is unclear when the street would open to the public.
As many as 25 buildings in a V-shaped street in front of the Badshahi Masjid were chosen by the CDGL to make a new food street after the Gowalmandi food street was closed in 2009. The plan to change this culturally rich area into a tourist attraction was made earlier this year by the CDGL.
However, several property owners who had wanted to convert their buildings into eateries were soon disappointed when the CDGL imposed a complete ban on food outlets on the rest of Fort Road, citing traffic issues as the justification.
Many thought that the street would open on the upcoming Eid, but right now there is uncertainty about an opening date. A building owner claimed that various stake holders are clashing over food prices at different restaurants. He said some of the already operational restaurants are nervous that the same food items would become available for less at other Food Street outlets. He complained that although the Street hoped to attract thousands of visitors there were no proper washrooms available or planned. The parking, he said, would be in a plot at the edge of the mosque and special carriages would carry visitors to the Food Street.
Iqbal Hussein, owner of the popular Cuckoo’s Den, said the price of food was no issue. Everyone, he said, was free to set the price on their fare and the customer could choose. He blamed the delay in opening on the lack of gas connections.
Habibur Rehman Khan, the president of the Society for the Development and Management of Fort Road Food Street, said that 95 per cent of the work had been completed. He said that the Food Street had been designed by a well-known firm and stakeholders had spent more than Rs25 million on the decor of the buildings. He said unlike the Gowalmandi Food Street there was no political pressure for this project.
Khan said that the street would be environment friendly and there would be efficient utilisation of electricity.
Khan added that the lights used to decorate Badshahi Mosque and Hazoori Bagh would only take up to 8,000 watts of load unlike the lights the Parks and Horticultural Agency used previously which took around 50,000 watts. He said he had no idea about an inauguration date and added that construction of washrooms and others matters would be resolved soon.
The Lahore District Coordination Office’s principal staff officer, Tariq Zaman, told The Tribune that a date would be set for the opening of the Food Street once the Society had resolved pending issues.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 24th, 2011.