Twin cities too congested for outsiders


Female students and working women living on their own are facing serious residential problems because of acute shortage of accommodation facilities in the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi. A single working woman or a female student, who is forced to live far from her hometown for study or job, face innumerable problems like finding a reasonable accommodation in city like Islamabad where available residential options are limited.
There are very limited options for single women as staying with relatives is not a very practical option because most of the relatives simply refuse to take the responsibility for a long period. People do not rent-out their flat or a portion of house to the young single girls or working women while the rent is also unaffordable.
In this scenario, majority of outsiders, that is working women and students, have no option but to live in a hostel and, unfortunately, there are only three working women hostels opened by the government in Islamabad, with two of these are reserved for the government employees. The third one, Nusrat Hostel, is open to the women working in private sector but it is difficult task to get a room there.
The private and un-registered private hostels, which are opened up in every nook and corner of the capital without any sort of check by the government, are the only hope for these women. The rent of these private hostels ranges from 6000 to 10,000 rupees on sharing basis. And in many cases, three to four women share one small room. If one wants to get a single accommodation, the charges could range from Rs 16,000 to Rs 32,000.
Anila Bibi, living in a single room in Sector G-7/2, said the main cause of the accommodation was the shortage of government-run hostels and proper affordable housing schemes in the twin cities. She said she had been facing the residential problem since she landed in the capital in 2008 after completing her studies.
“In the past three years, I have changed my residence many times due to the ill attitude of the landlords or lack of basic facilities,” she added.
She said whenever any guest from her hometown visited her rented room the landlord aunty started inquiring her about the guest.
Rehana Shah, working in a NGO, said, “My salary is enough to afford a portion but my whole family is dependent on me; therefore, I want to save as much money as I can to support my kin.”
She said she was now residing in a small room of a private hostel with three other girls and paid Rs 6,000 rupees per head to the hostel management that provided two-time meals and breakfast. “There is no proper arrangement of cleanliness and the food is substandard but we have no other option.” She appealed to the authorities concerned to take steps for setting up new girls hostels in the twin cities, as the existing facilities are not sufficient for the ever-increasing women working class.
Nazia Ikram, student of a college in F-6, told Pakistan Today that she failed to get space in her college hostel. “It is quite difficult for a student to find a reasonable living place at affordable rates as the private hostels have been charging Rs 6,000 to Rs 8,000 for a single bed accommodation,” she added.
A property dealer, Inam Khattak, in G-8/2, said, “It’s true that the single women doing job or studying are facing many problems in finding accommodation, as owners prefer to rent out their houses only to the families.”
He said, “Mostly the girls, who contact us to find a rented house or flat, cannot afford the rent and discard the option after some effort. The house rents are very high in Islamabad and it increase further in winter, as many people from Murree and Kashmir shift to the twin cities due to the snowfall.”