Curbing encroachments: Sack and carton vendors to be evicted from New Sabzi Mandi

The move is aimed at stubbing out fire threats in the market.

Our Correspondent March 25, 2013
A fire gutted the New Sabzi Mandi on March 6. PHOTO: REUTERS

KARACHI: The agriculture department’s market committee has formed three teams to keep an eye out for illegal activities and encroachments in New Sabzi Mandi. This entails removing sack and carton vendors from the market.

While talking to The Express Tribune, the committee’s administrator, Ghulam Murtaza Baloch, said on Sunday that the teams will not only monitor illegal activity but also swiftly take legal action against those who are caught violating the law. The teams’ members will be changed after every 15 days in an attempt to prevent collusions with encroachers.

Baloch said that vendors selling cartons and sacks are not allowed to set up their shops inside the market, but at the moment, many of them are flouting this rule. “We will send them notices to leave the market and set up their shops outside because empty sacks and cartons can fuel fires,” he said. “They are like petrol for fire. Their presence inside the market is not only illegal but dangerous as well.” He added that the fire which broke out in the market on March 6 caused major damage only because of the presence of a large number of cartons and sacks which fed the flames.

According to Baloch, the shops occupied by empty carton and sacks vendors were allotted for fruits and vegetables and selling anything else besides agricultural produce in them is illegal. “We will only allow fruit and vegetable traders to keep sacks and cartons to pack the goods in. But nobody will be able to run entire stalls selling these items inside the market.”

He added that his committee is trying to obtain a No Objection Certificate from the agriculture department so that 10 acres right next to the market can be allotted to the sack and carton vendors.

Fazal Karim, who has been running his sacks and cartons shops inside New Sabzi Mandi for the past 10 years, said, “We’re ready to leave the market so long as the government provides us an alternative space close to it.” He said that the vendors had first set up their stalls in 2002 across the street from New Sabzi Mandi. But they relocated and moved inside the market itself as it was more convenient for the customers, who often found it difficult to lug their purchase to-and-fro.

“Now when we have found an appropriate space for work, they are removing us so that they can allot the spaces to someone else and make money,” claimed Karim. He added that the vendors will protest and call strikes if they get removed from the market without being provided a suitable space to set up their stalls.

While talking to The Express Tribune, the chairperson of the Sabzi Mandi businessmen’s alliance, Haji Syed Abdul Razzak Agha, said the government should remove the sack and carton vendors from the market, but only after providing them sufficient compensation for the losses they sustained in the recent fire. They should also be allotted a space near the market, he added. “Sacks and cartons are necessary for our business and we can’t work without them. We need them to send our products across the country.” He added that 40,000 cartons and the same number of sacks are used in the market each day. “We have written letters to the agriculture department to shift the vendors to 6 acres along Sabzi Mandi’s boundary wall.”

Published in The Express Tribune, March 25th, 2013.


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