KARACHI: The wait for prospective purchasers of sacrificial animals living in the city is over, as the cattle market set up along the Super Highway, considered to be the largest in Asia, is now open. The market was officially inaugurated Wednesday evening in a colourful event consisting of a musical show, cat walk of ‘VIP cattle’ and food stalls.
Spread over 800 acres with a total of 26 blocks, the cattle market has already received more than 70,000 cattle, while more sellers are on their way from different parts of the country to showcase their animals at the market. An attraction at the market is the presence of more than 30 VIP tents, where heavy sized animals worth more than Rs1 million are available for sale. The tents include animals from Sindh Dairy, Afridi, Dilpasand, Surmawala, Kainat, Jinnah Cattle and others.
The market is supervised by the Malir Cantonment, which allots its administrative control to a private firm through a tender every year. This year the tender has been acquired by Hassan Brothers, who have nominated Syed Irshad Ahmed as administrator of the market. The job of the administrator is to implement rules set by the Malir Cantonment and provide facilities that are promised to the cattle sellers.
The cantonment has also increased the fee for the entry of cattle in the market this year. For the last five years, the entry charge for cows was Rs1,000 per animal, which has been increased this time to Rs1,400. Similarly, for sheep and goats the rate has been increased to Rs800 per animal from Rs600.
Many animal traders at the market, however, seemed to be dissatisfied with the arrangements. A trader, Moen Ahmedani, who had arrived from Raheem Yar Khan with his business partners and 525 cows, shared with The Express Tribune that he was surprised to see the of Rs400 increase in the entry fee. “With the increase in the entry fee, we will also have to increase the price of our animals. However, the customers will not understand that,” he said, adding that increase of Rs400 per animal may not matter much to those who bring few animals but for those traders who bring hundreds of animals, the price hike is not affordable.
Another trader, Murtuza Taili, who had arrived from Husri, Hyderabad, lamented that last year he suffered a great loss at the market as many of his animals fell ill due to severe rainfall. He added that after the rains, the market remained inundated for several days when it was supposed to be at its peak, resulting in less number of customers coming to the market. The trader hoped that this time the administration is prepared for rains and has sufficient pumps to suck out the water.
Mentioning the services that the traders are receiving at the market, the administrator said that like every year, the administration is providing free-of-cost electricity and 16 litres of water per animal to the traders. A large number of toilets have also been built to facilitate the traders, he said.
Responding to a question regarding preparations for rain, Ahmed said they have arranged suction pumps in case of a downpour. Ahmed also added that this year the administration is not allowing any animal to be placed in the market without being vaccinated. Every trader has to present the certificate of vaccination at the entry, otherwise he will be barred from entering the market, he said, adding that to help the traders, the Sindh government has set up vaccination facility at the toll plaza.
Meanwhile, Karachi Commissioner Ejaz Ahmed Khan has also pledged that the government will provide a fire tender and ambulance at the market.
Ahmed has also assured that veterinary services will be provided at the market to keep the animals healthy. In a statement, he said that livestock and animal husbandry department has assigned veterinary teams to examine the animals round the clock.
Three teams have been constituted to inspect the animals at the market and treat them if they are ill, the statement added. The teams, which are headed by Dr Rafique Ahmed Memon, Dr Amjad Ali Shah and Dr Saleemullah Awan, comprise 12 veterinary doctors accompanied by para-veterinary staff and other required workers. The teams are to work in three eight-hour shifts to provide veterinary services 24 hours, the statement said. The focal person for the veterinary teams is Dr Syed Noman Ali who is senior veterinary officer at Veterinary Hospital, Surjani Town.
The administrator urged the traders to cooperate with veterinary teams so that health of the sacrificial animals could be ensured.
“It is our prime responsibility to keep the Asia’s biggest cattle market safe for both the customers and sellers, which is why we are ensuring the health of all animals,” the administrator added.