KARACHI: The pet animals and birds displaced from Empress Market and the surrounding areas in the wake of the demolition exercise as part of the city-wide anti-encroachment campaign, have finally found a new home on an open plot in front of the former pet market. Arrangements have been finalised to shift the pets and birds market to the new location, with the inauguration of the new market expected in a few days.
The anti-encroachment operation that began two months ago around Empress Market and the surrounding vicinities brought an end to the decades-old pets market. More than 150 shops were demolished. However, after the allocation of a plot opposite the former market, a new market is being set up. It will be inaugurated in the next few days.
According to Muhammad Hafeez, a shop owner at the former market, shop rent for the new market has been finalised. The new place, which will be named Empress View Birds Market, will host around 126 temporary shops, said Hafeez, adding that those who had more than one shop previously would be allotted only one shop due to the shortage of space. He further said that shopkeepers would collectively pay the monthly rent for the place.
Shopkeepers had to struggle a lot to get a space as it was almost impossible to arrange a large piece of land in a congested area like Saddar. While shifting to an entirely new place means that the shopkeepers will have to start from scratch, if the market had been shifted to a far-off location, there would be no guarantee for business to begin with. Fate took a turn in favour of the shopkeepers as they managed to acquire the desired space.
According to the shopkeepers, after the reestablishment of the market, those who had been raising animals and birds in their homes have also found new hope. After the market is set up, the business of breeding Australian parrots, Persian and Siamese cats as well as desi chickens at homes has started to revitalise.
Market dealers said that a large number of people used to visit the marketplace with animals and birds, reared at home, on Sundays and other holidays. These people had stopped coming to the markets following the anti-encroachment operation, but after the re-launch of the pet market, they are expected to return. The market dealers are trying to divert the suppliers of pets to the newly set up temporary market so that traffic flows on the roads remain smooth.
According to the shopkeepers, efforts for establishing the new market were made on a self-help basis, without any government support. They lamented that after the clearance of debris from the old marketplace, teams from the anti-encroachment cell have attempted to demolish the temporary shops as well.
However, the shopkeepers stood as a wall against the new operation and threatened the teams carrying the heavy demolition machinery to bulldoze them before demolishing their temporary shops for which they had worked so hard. They said that the anti-encroachment teams stopped their operation due to threats and strong protests.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 18th, 2019.