The result of a survey, carried out by the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to ascertain illegal kiosks which have sprang up in different areas of the capital, has even stunned the top officials.
The survey result, available with The Express Tribune, shows that out of 1,339 kiosks in the municipal limits of the CDA, only 539 have licences while the rest were operating illegally.
Out of the 539 legal kiosks, owners of 279 kiosks hold location-specific licences while around 260 kiosks owners do not location-specific licences.
The allotment of only four out of the 539 kiosks had been made after advertising them in the national press, while the remaining 535 kiosks had been allotted by the CDA chairman, member environment and member administration by using their discretionary powers, it has been learnt.
Since year 2007, the Environment Wing of the CDA issued some 47 location-specific licences for the establishment of kiosks, out of which, 35 licences were issued during the tenure of the PPP government. Similarly, Directorate of Municipal Administration (DMA) issued 232 location-specific kiosk licences. These include 19 A-type stalls, 32 B-type stalls, 17 C-type stalls, 54 K-type stalls, 49 tea stalls, 37 tuck shops, seven food-cart licences, nine sui gas tandoor and seven licences for snack bars. The list of kiosks submitted by the DMA did not contain details of the timeframe when these licences were issued.
CDA Chairman Syed Tahir Shahbaz said that Directorates of Municipal Administration, Environment and Estate have recently exchanged lists of legal and illegal kiosks in the light of the directives of the Islamabad High Court.
He said that final results were yet to be compiled. After culmination of the survey exercise, a massive drive against illegal kiosks would be initiated, Shahbaz added.
History of allotment of kiosks
After Islamabad was declared as capital in 1960, it became necessary to establish some makeshift kiosks to ensure the availability of daily commodities and edibles to a large number of labourers who were working on the new city.
In 1979, the CDA formally initiated the process of documenting these kiosks after issuing allotment letters to owners of kiosks. In 1984, the authority formulated a policy to benefit the kiosk owners and it was decided that the CDA would develop shops and give it to owners on a licence basis against their mud structures.
Under this policy, some 20 owners were given small-sized shops, while several others were allotted A, B and C type kiosks across the city.
In 1992, the authority carried out the first survey to ascertain the actual number of kiosks in Islamabad. It was found that there were some 646 kiosks made of mud and wood. The CDA then decided that no new licence would be issued as the city was fast growing and the number of licence-seekers was also increasing.
In 1992, the authority started charging a nominal per month license fee from kiosk owners.
Later, the authority decided to remove these 646 mud structures after providing the owners suitable land in city markets, but it did not happen, as another survey carried out in 1996 showed presence of 381 mud structures across the capital.
“Until year 2000, the kiosk owners were the poor people, but during Musharaf’s regime when the city developed on fast track, even politicians, media persons and other influentials started taking interest in getting kiosk at the place of their choice,” said a senior official of DMA.
“During the PPP’s regime, the practice gained momentum and now relatives of several ministers and MPs own kiosks at prized locations of the city,” the official said adding after 2008, PPP activists were given licences of kiosks in recognition of their services to the party.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 22nd, 2013.