KARACHI: Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar has said that in the past 11 months, the Sindh government has not given a single penny for development projects. Meeting a delegation of the business union, led by the union's chairperson Atiq Mir, on Monday, the mayor asked how development work would be done in the city. "The businessmen of Karachi are providing revenue to the province and the country. Karachi should be allocated funds according to the law so that money can be used for solving the problems of the city," said the mayor. He accredited the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) with understanding the problems of businessmen and voicing their concerns.
"We are raising their voice on every forum so that their issues could be resolved and the business activities of the city are restored. Our efforts will strengthen the economy of the country," he said. Deputy Mayor Syed Arshad Hassan, the chairpersons of various committees and officers of relevant departments attended the meeting.
The delegation demanded that alternative business spaces be given to traders who had been affected during the anti-encroachment drive. They added that the Karachi mayor was their only hope and expressed the expectation that he would communicate their problems the higher authorities and support them in ensuring alternative spaces to the affected traders.
Traders also proposed to assist the authorities in establishing Robinson Road, situated in Jama Cloth Market area, as a 'model road' and expressed interests in extending help for the removal of encroachments and cleaning of drains near Dr Ruth Pfau Civil Hospital.
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Akhtar reiterated that the businessmen of Karachi were generating the most revenue for the government. According to the mayor, it is the traders who generate the most revenue. The more they are facilitated, the stronger the economy would be, he said. "However, the anti-encroachment drive is being undertaken on the orders of the Supreme Court due to some shortcomings and faults committed in the past," he said, adding that the anti-encroachment drive was in the interest of the city and its citizens.
He requested the business community to extend support in the repair and reconstruction of roads and sidewalks situated in old areas of the city including Burns Road. The roads near densely populated areas are being widened; sidewalks will be at least eight-feet wide, he told traders. The mayor also demanded cooperation from the business community with regards to machinery and vehicles needed for the operation so that the work is expedited. If every market association provides a truck and a lifter, there will be no encroachments left in Karachi, said the mayor. "We must work together for the development and beautification of the city. We will place city wardens for transport management across Jama Cloth Market," he added.
Mir thanked Akhtar for the meeting and said that the mayor showed interest in solving the problems of traders and in resolving other issues including road and sewerage issues in the Garden and Urdu Bazar areas. He said that the Trader Action Committee would cooperate with KMC at all levels, including the anti-encroachment drive. "A lot of work has been done despite the lack of resources since the last time we met the mayor," added Mir.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 3rd, 2019.