KARACHI: The Lighthouse Market Association announced on Monday that they would block MA Jinnah Road and hold a sit-in indefinitely if negotiations with Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar fail on Tuesday (today).
Officials of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) were compelled to negotiate with the traders of Lighthouse Market as on the eighth day (Monday) of their on-going sit-in they shifted their protest from the nullah behind the KMC building to the main gate of KMC’s Central Office. Around half an hour after the traders set up camp outside the main gate, KMC officials sprang into action and entered negotiations with the anti-encroachment campaign affectees.
Encroachment Senior Director Bashir Siddiqui assured the traders that they would be provided with an alternative space soon. He invited the traders to speak with Akhtar on Tuesday (today) at noon and claimed that of the 3,000 traders whose shops were demolished during the anti-encroachment drive, 1,500 traders have been provided with alternative spaces and the remaining 1,500 would be catered to soon as well. The traders, however, appear to have little faith in the promises made by Siddiqui.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, Lighthouse Lunda Bazaar Association President Hakeem Shah said that if they were further duped during the meeting with the mayor on Tuesday, they would resort to blocking MA Jinnah Road and would hold a sit-in indefinitely.
In response to a question, Shah said that the traders had sustained a loss of around Rs1.5 billion in the current season. He stressed that the temporary stalls of around 300 traders were forcibly removed by the police a week ago and the affected traders were struggling to provide for their families.
Shah added that the police removed the temporary stalls but turned a blind eye to illegal parking connected with the KMC building even though the illegal parking was affecting the flow of traffic.
The traders’ president said that despite assurances by the mayor, the owners of 300 shops at the Lighthouse were not provided with an alternative space. The sit-in would continue till an official notification is issued announcing the provision of an alternative place, he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 19th, 2019.