The opening of the renovated Pak Tea House has been delayed till after Eid as the company undertaking the project awaits clearance of bills from the city government, The Express Tribune has learnt.
The reopening of the historic café has run into several hurdles this year, including a stay order by the court after the lease owner challenged it. After the legal challenge was overcome in June, the renovation work picked up pace and the official in charge of the project, Colonel (retired) Younis Barula, who is also the additional security director for the commissioner, said the café would be opened on August 14.
Memar Associates, a firm owned by famous playwright Dr Enver Sajjad, was awarded a Rs8.5 million contract for the renovation. Director Haji Liaqat said that the work had slowed to a crawl for the last week or so due to a lack of funds. He said that the firm had spent Rs3.2 million on the renovation and was awaiting clearance of the dues by the city government.
Liaqat said that if the money were received before Eid, they would be able to complete the renovation in around three weeks. He said that some electrical work and tile work, painting of the walls and installation of doors was yet to be completed. He said that the most delicate part of the construction work restoring the façade – was also still to be done.
He said that architect Khawaja Mansoor had done the design and the renovated Pak Tea House would reflect its original style but with modern touches. He said that a 35KvA generator would be installed. The café would have seating for up to 50 people.
Colonel (retired) Barula said that the company’s payments were pending due to certain legal requirements of the city government and these would be cleared soon. He said that he was in touch with the city government on the issue.
He said that a few days ago, he had discussed the project with MNA Hamza Shahbaz, who has taken a special interest in the renovation of the Pak Tea House. He said that Shahbaz had suggested that the opening should be delayed till after Ramazan. “Hamza said it should be inaugurated after Eid so he could have a cup of tea there too,” he said.
He said that two companies had approached them offering to run the Pak Tea House on a no-profit, no-loss basis. He said that no decision had yet been made on how the café would be run. He said a committee supervised by the commissioner or the DCO would be set up to manage the café.
The Tea House property is owned by the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA). An 11-month lease agreement has already been signed between the YMCA and Data Ganj Baksh Town administration, which will pay the former Rs10,000 a monthly as rent.
The café was established in 1940 and originally called the India Tea House. It was renamed after Partition and the property was leased to a man named Sirajuddin. On his death, the lease was transferred to his son Zahid Hussain. He closed the Pak Tea House in 2000 and set up a tyre shop there instead. The courts ruled against Hussain’s claim to the property as the YMCA reported that the lease agreement was only valid as long as the Pak Tea House continued to run from it.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 13th, 2012.