Residents of less developed areas on the city’s outskirts have complained that the Ramazan Bazaars set up to serve them are heavily short on supply and quality of goods.
On Tuesday, the first day of Ramazan, the markets at Nishtar Colony, Chungi Dogauge near Rangers Headquarters, Sabzazar and Jallo were selling only flour, sugar and a few vegetables.
Aslam Nazeer, a resident of Nishtar Colony, said that there was probably little incentive for officials to make sure the market runs smoothly since no inspectors ever came round to check it. He said he had to buy fruits and vegetables from the open market at higher prices as the Ramazan Bazaar in his area had very little on offer.
“They are selling sugar at Rs68 per kg, when it is available at Rs55 per kg at Utility Stores,” he said.
The city district government has set up a total of 24 Ramazan Bazaars in Lahore. The prices of the various goods they are meant to be offering are lower than in the open market, but without the full subsidies on flour and sugar, there have been none of the long queues at the bazaars like last year. Sugar is being sold at Rs68 per kg and flour at Rs425 per 20 kg.
Several frustrated customers complained that the town municipal administrations had spent a lot of money and effort on making the markets look pretty, but that was of no use when several basic items were not even available.
The bazaars also have special counters for disabled citizens, emergencies and complaints.
Aziz Bhatti Town Municipal Officer Muhammad Bakhsh Ansari denied that local government officials were neglecting the markets. He said that it was not the towns’ responsibility to ensure there is an adequate supply of goods at the market.
“Our job is only to set up the bazaars and make sure that goods are sold at the set rates,” he said.
The establishment of stalls is the responsibility of the market committee, which is controlled by the Agriculture Department, he said. The committees had assured the district coordination officer that they would maintain a steady supply to the markets, he said.
“The DCO suspended a couple of officials for failing to do this a few days ago but the problem remains.”
He said that the “beautification” of the Ramazan Bazaars had been carried out under orders from the city government.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 3rd, 2011.