Almost a year on, a market set up by the city administration near Liaqat Bagh last Ramazan, now wears a deserted look as the project could not become the success story that the city’s legislators had hoped for. However, with the city government’s plan to revive the failed market, the hopes of affected traders to offset some of the losses incurred last year are strengthening.
The model bazaar set up on the bank of Leh Nullah was abandoned by traders soon after last Ramazan as citizens did not make use of the bazaar enough for it to be economically viable, leading to its closure.
However, the city administration has planned to once again use the facility this Ramazan to provide essential items on subsidised rates. The city administration plans to establish nine such bazaars in the city.
The brainchild of PML-N member of the National Assembly Shakeel Awan, the project with a boundary wall and a link road was set up near the Rawal Town Municipal Administration (RTMA) office at a cost of Rs27 million in July last year to facilitate the traders to do business three-day-a-week.
The bazaar was expected to attract customers by offering daily-use items at 200 stalls on controlled rates.
Initially, the city district government offered free stalls but soon began asking traders to pay Rs125 a day for the facility. Following the announcement, only 35 stalls remained open after Ramazan, and a little while later, all stall holders had left the bazaar, said Aslam Khan, who ran a fruit stall at the bazaar last Ramazan.
Bari Khan, another fruit vendor, said he lost Rs70,000 in two months after last Ramazan because he was unable to sell all his merchandise on two stalls. He felt the real problem was that the facility was situated at a place that is not easily accessible for consumers.
This year, regular staff of the Rawal Town Municiap Administration will perform duties at the market during Ramazan after the 11 men hired on one-year contracts for the model bazaar were removed after being paid pending dues, said RTMA Administrator Saif Anwar Jappa. The administrator said the bazaars would offer subsidised rates for flour, sugar and gram powder (basin).
He added that the agriculture department had been directed to set up fair price shops for nine different fruit and vegetable items during the month of fasting.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 16th, 2012.