ISLAMABAD: Traders and shopkeepers at Safa Gold Mall were fuming on Saturday over lost sales as the mall remained closed for the third consecutive day.
The Capital Development Authority (CDA) sealed the multi-storey facility over various building code violations and overdue payments for the land it is built on.
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Sources said the CDA and the mall’s owners had not been able to reach a settlement by Saturday evening, suggesting that the facility would remain close on Sunday.
While the CDA has previously taken action against commercial outlets and private property owners over various infractions, the issues are usually resolved within days, if not hours.
This incident, however, stands out because the sealed venue represents a significant commercial building, rather than a standalone shop, restaurant, or house.
“In the past, similar operations were launched by the CDA Building Control Section (BCS) against Safa Gold Mall, but it never affected our businesses as our shops remained open,” Amjad Saeed, who works at a clothing store in Safa Gold Mall, told The Express Tribune. He said that wedding season was around the corner and they had to take and supply custom-order items to customers, but due to the sealing they were unable to do either.
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Another shopkeeper said he had lost thousands of rupees in sales commissions, along with the losses that the shop’s owner had suffered, and feared for what the future held if the store remained closed much longer.
Shazia Gul, a resident of Islamabad, was seen checking if the building had opened. She told The Express Tribune that she had ordered clothes for her daughter’s wedding and was supposed to pick them up on Saturday. She said that with only a few days left for the wedding, she had become anxious as she had paid half the bill and couldn’t afford to get new clothes for the family on such short notice, even from off-the-rack stores.
The CDA’s building control section (BCS) had sealed Safa Gold Mall in F-7, Jinnah Supper Market on July 28, on the charges of violation of building bylaws and non-payment of dues.
Abbas Khan, a university student who would go to the food court, said he was disappointed that his favourite fast food outlet was inaccessible, but was also happy that rules were being enforced. “I assume the shops were all paying their rent on time. They should pressure the owner to either pay the fines and overdue bills, or go to court against the owners, because shops and salespeople are the ones losing money.”
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A kiosk operator at the mall said suing the owners may not be a practical option.
The mall was previously issued many notices pertaining to building bylaw violations, the construction of additional storeys, covering a stream adjacent to the mall, and encroachment on state land.
A CDA official said no headway had been made in negotiations. The mall administration could not be reached for comment.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 31st, 2016.
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