RAWALPINDI: The much-trumpeted model bazaar near Liaquat National Bagh, inaugurated in Ramazan last year and supposedly open to customers four days a week, has been deserted.
All stall holders, citing poor business, have packed up, official sources told The Express Tribune.
The facility, housing about 200 stalls with surrounding wall and a link road, was constructed at a cost of Rs27 million under the supervision of the Rawalpindi commissioner.
“All stalls were booked and the traders saw good business as the consumers visited bazaar in Ramazan,” said Aslam Khan, a stall holder.
Vendors were given possession of the stall free of charge in the beginning. But then the city district government started charging a daily rent of Rs125. People too stopped coming.
“Following the announcement [on the rent], about 35 stalls were left, which were also abandoned with time,” said Aslam.
He added that the bazaar is in place that is not easily accessible, which is the primary reason for its abandonment.
Barri Khan, another trader who previously owned a stall in the bazaar, said the bank of Nullah Leh behind the Liaquat Bagh is not the most ideal of places for such an initiative.
“I could not sell my fruit as no one came to the market. I lost Rs70,000 in two months after Ramazan,” Barri added.
The penniless servants
Eleven men hired on a one-year contract for the upkeep of the bazaar have not been paid salaries for the past six months. One of the men said, “We were to be paid from the income generated from the facility. But the government is getting nothing from the bazaar.”
Rawal Town Administrator Saif Anwar Jappa said they are making a plan to woo the traders back to the bazaar. A proposal is under consideration to transfer the control of the facility to Rawal Town Administration and after the transfer all out efforts would be made to revive the bazaar, he said. About the wages of the staff, the administrator said the issue is “almost resolved”, as the administration has decided to pay them salaries even if the bazaar does not generate any income.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 13th, 2012.