Stray dogs seek shelter under broken benches, moving around an area littered like a junkyard, and not a man in sight. This is not the scene of some abandoned ancient dwelling, but rather the only Model Bazaar in the city.
The Rs26.9 million Model Bazaar, located adjacent to Liaquat Bazaar and Rawalpindi Press Club, was built on an area of 20 kanals in 2011 with an aim to provide quality daily-use items at reasonable prices, but due to the district government’s lack of interest, it was closed after five months.
“The rates of edible items were relatively high, as the government would charge rents from Rs5,000 to Rs6,000 per stall,” said Muhammad Ilyas, a resident of Raja Bazaar.
He said shopkeepers had held several meetings with the DCO, but the issue could not be resolved.
There are over 200 stalls divided in blocks, with each block dedicated to specific items such as vegetables, fruits, clothes and even crockery.
“There used to be great rush as city residents and people from Islamabad would come here to shop,” said Ilyas, adding that it was pleasant public market and most people preferred to shop here instead of Raja Bazaar or Saddar.
He added there was no authority to manage the affairs of bazaar and check the quality of items being sold.
He said the inferior quality of goods available meant that the bazaar failed to retain shoppers, due to which the government eventually closed it.
Many employees also did not receive their salaries and ended up resigning. “I have not been paid my salary for the last five months,” said Iftikhar, the watchman for the bazaar.
The sweeper also quit his job last month, with his salary for the last eight months having gone unpaid.
“The DCO assured me that my salary will be released this month. If not, I will also quit,” said the watchman.
The shabby condition of the park speaks volume of the authorities’ apathy, said 57-year old Ibrar while pointing to the dilapidated condition of the bazaar.
He felt the government should have waived off tax and rent for one year to stabilise the market, but instead they charged high rents, due to which the market failed to cater to the needs of the citizens.
Other residents demanded that the district government reopen the bazaar so that they could get daily use items at subsidised rates.
Meanwhile, District Coordination Officer Rashid Mehmood Langrial said funds had been allocated and the bazaar will be reopened soon.
“The salaries of employees are regularly being paid,” he said, contradicting the claims of the watchman. He also said he hoped that the bazaar could be reopened before Ramazan.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 4th, 2013.
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