KARACHI: Sustainable steps are needed to retrieve roads, streets and footpaths from encroachers to give the city a disciplined and civilised look.
Alarmed by an ever-growing number of street encroachers and Pathara Wallas in Karachi, the citizens have asked the government to lodge FIRs against these habitual people and use surveillance cameras to detect and recognise them.
Recently, the city administration launched an anti-encroachment drive in Saddar area that lasted for a few hours compelling the street vendors to move to the side lanes. However, they returned to the main roads as soon as the police and anti-encroachment teams left the area.
This cat-and-mouse play is witnessed by the citizens almost every week, which is not aimed at to dislodge street encroachers.
Not only Empress Market but the Regal Chowk, illegal bus terminal area of Saddar and spare market area of MA Jinnah Road are notorious for the street and footpath encroachers.
Previously, in a high-level meeting held in the Commissioner House also attended by the senior police officers it was decided to lodge FIRs against the street encroachers and Pathara Wallas in their respective area police stations, but this decision was not implemented, because the bureaucracy is not ready to take a ‘real action’ against the squatters, because they bribe them.
“Who would like to kill the golden egg laying goose,” commented an official on condition of anonymity.
However, he said that the best method to dislodge the street and footpath encroachers is to lodge FIRs against them and involve them in litigation which is time-consuming and costly and no Pathara Walla would like to be booked for crime and visit courts.
He said the lodging of FIRs is very easy because same people encroach upon same locations of roads and footpaths every day and not only the concerned DMC people know them but they also well-known to the area police, which receives extortion money from them, he added.
He said the use of the surveillance cameras is very helpful to detect and locate these street encroachers as such cameras have already been installed in almost all busy commercial areas and main streets.
He further said all it needs to make a special desk in the surveillance cameras monitoring room to keep an eye on the presence of the encroachers in real time and lodge FIRs on the basis of this official footage, in case the local police or DMC officials are not ready to recognise these ‘unknown encroachers’.
However, Sindh chief minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has instructed the concerned authorities to remove street and footpath encroachments from the whole city and launched strict operations in the regard in the affected areas of the city.