An influx of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from Khyber Agency to settled districts has created a shortage of houses available to rent on the outskirts of the city.
Nearly all empty houses, including mena houses reserved for crop sharers in villages, have also been rented by IDPs. Currently, it is almost impossible to find an empty house along the main Bara Road and Kohat Road as well.
Talking to The Express Tribune, a former naib nazim of Sheikhan Union council, Faiz Muhammad, said that only a small number of refugees from the Akka Khel area of Khyber Agency have moved to the Jalozai refugee camp for shelter. The rest have settled in villages including Masho Gagar, Masho Khel, Sheikhan, Badabher, Matani, Sarband, Achini and Sangu.
“Those who can afford to buy houses in the city do so. Some have chosen to rent houses in surrounding villages instead of going to refugee camps,” he said. He added that in his own union council, which comprises of around four villages, no house was empty. “They have even rented the mena houses that normally only have two rooms and a boundary wall, as well as every mud house they can acquire.”
Muhammad said that nearly 1,500 families have migrated to Masho Khel village alone and sometimes several families resided in one house.
Another villager Wisal Ahmed added that around 10,000 families have settled in villages in the province.
Talking to The Express Tribune, an IDP Muhammad Arif said that he was able to purchase a house for Rs2 million in Badabher Area but other people from his area had rented homes in surrounding villages. “I had money so I purchased a plot and constructed a house in Peshawar, but not all IDPs can afford to do that,” he added.
Sanober Khan Afridi, a driver by profession, said that he moved to Mashogagar and rented a three-room house with his cousin there. “We did not want to live in the camp with our whole families, so we rented a mud house,” he said, adding that here, they could easily buy fresh vegetables, fruits and other daily necessities. “There is no market in Akka Khel. You have to come to Matani, Peshawar to find one,” he said. He said that his life was easier in the settled district as compared to where he came from, but he was more used to his life back home.
Safeer from Bara said that his family has settled in Peshawar since last year and was surviving on Rs6,000 per month. “Life is easier in the city but more expensive. You have to pay rent and utility bills,” he said.
Safeer said he would like to go back to Bara, despite the fact that he thought his children were happy in Peshawar.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 29th, 2012.