All tiers of civil administration as well as traffic police remain silent spectators as car dealerships take over parking lots and turn them into display areas; G-8, G-9 and G-11 Markaz worst hit areas
Every market in capital has a huge dedicated parking area for customers and traders. However, these parking areas have been gradually taken away by car dealerships. These automobile barons take over parking lots in heavily congested areas with no regard for thousands of people who have to travel to these areas. Parts of G-11, G-9 and G-8 Markaz are some of the worst hit areas.
The main market of sector G-8 looks like a car assembly plant as hundreds of cars are parked in an orderly fashion, inches away from one another. These applied-for cars are parked in an area that is reserved for general public. The state of affairs in main markets of Sector G-9 and G-11 is not much different. The whole parking lots have been turned into ivory towers of imported cars of all sizes and price ranges.
A source at the CDA told Pakistan Today that when the enforcement wing asks the car owners to remove their merchandise from the parking lots, they offer a very interesting explanation – that these cars don’t belong to them, and have been left there by their owners. Many even claim that they are simply looking after the car while its owner is away.
CAR DEALERS AND CAR OWNERS, NOT ON THE SAME SIDE ANYMORE:
The tidal wave of imported Japanese cars that started back in mid 2000’s, has now coalesced into a sector that creates jobs, contributes to informal economy and has a very strong presence in market unions and politics.
But with so many cars on the roads there is one problem that both the car owners and the car dealerships have in common – lack of parking space.
The limited amount of space available in the showrooms is a problem for the car dealerships as only a handful of cars can be displayed in shops and showrooms. The showroom owners, therefore, began to ‘acquire’ footpaths and then afterwards started parking their cars on the sides of the roads.
While the illegal occupation of the parking lots denies people the right of passage and inconvenience them in a hundred other ways, their impact on the surroundings is easy to underestimate. The car dealerships need extensive supply of water to keep their merchandise spic and span. Many rely on illegal water connections for the purpose. The practice is so harmful that according to CDA’s statistics, the waterbed balance of entire sectors has been affected.
The practice of washing cars out in the open also ruins roads and the sewerage system.
Many of the showroom owners hail from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the military operation in the northern part of the country forced many to relocate to major cities of Pakistan. The wealthy, on their arrival, established showrooms and hired their less privileged relatives on commission as salesmen thus providing them an avenue to earn a respectable living.
HERE TO STAY, COME WHAT MAY:
But the presence of showrooms not only eats up space meant for general public, it also has adverse effect on the market value of the nearby shops and plazas.
Adeel and Nabeel, brothers and owners of a car showroom in G-11 Markaz, when asked about the space being occupied by their cars said, “We are more than willing to move our cars to a dedicated market. It is the duty of the authorities concerned to make such arrangements. There should be an exclusive car market for automobile dealers. If they give us land, we’ll move there.”
When asked if they were concerned about the notices issued by the CDA warning them against the use of parking lots as display areas, the brothers said that they have received no such notice.
THE DOUBLE DEALING CDA:
The CDA has initiated many drives against various forms of encroachments. The Authority regularly takes actions against illegal slums, kiosks and other encroachments in the city which takes away the residence and livelihood of tens of thousands of people. However, when it comes to parking areas occupied by automobile barons, the bulldozer-wielding, baton-carrying Capital Development Authority turns into a bungling, blundering mess.
Khurram, a car showroom owner at G-8, said that the traffic police told them that the traffic must not jam and no car should be parked on footpaths. “Other than that we are free to use the space as we wish.”
When asked whether he had received a notice from the CDA regarding this, he said, “The Market Committee might have received a notice or two in this regard, but we haven’t. We’ll stay here come what may, as this is our place of business, and no one can evict us from here.”
A source at the CDA told Pakistan Today that many attempts have been made to break up this ring, but the powerful market unions and indifference of the administration has perpetuated the status quo.
The Blue Area, one of Asia’s largest markets, has also not been spared by the showroom owners. The already scarce parking space is used to house high-end cars like Land Cruisers, BMWs and Mercedes.
“These showrooms operate as if they have bought the pavements and parking spots,” said Muhammad Ahmed, who was traveling to a shop in the Blue Area. “They shamelessly occupy the already insufficient parking space in the area. I request the CDA to take action so that the common man can have some peace of mind.”
CDA Spokesman Ramzan Sajid said that an operation to remove encroachments is in progress all over the capital.
“CDA is collaborating with market associations, especially in markets like G-8 Markaz. The dealers have given assurances that the situation will be resolved amicably,” the CDA spokesperson said.