Despite district coordination officer’s (DCO) various orders to act against the encroachments in the major commercial areas of the city, the municipal authorities are showing clumsiness in carrying out the directives in the areas under their jurisdiction, Pakistan Today has learnt.
Lahore DCO had ordered the town administration to launch a crackdown against encroachments as they were hindering relief activities in the area; the situation is no different in other municipal areas.
Data Ganj Baksh Town is a victim of the massive encroachments because towns officials are reportedly allowing hawkers and roadside vendors to clog the road if they pay Rs200 to 300 on daily basis or 3000 to 5000 on monthly basis, it depends on how posh the setup is.
Sources told Pakistan Today that over Rs 80,000 is collected from such hawkers of which 60 percent is allegedly pocketed by the TMO officials.
The sources in the municipal authority further alleged that the TMO has appointed officials in the commercial areas of Anarkali, Hall Road, Raja Market, Panorama, Gawal Mandi, Lakshmi Chowk, Gari Shahu ,Bilal Ganj, Raj Garh, Sandha, Mozang Adda, Lawrence Road, Nela Gumbad; these officials are stationed in these areas to collect the bribes. These people are acting as facilitators in the process of encroachments in the area, depending on who pays and does not pay.
Imran, a street vendor at Mozang Adda, told Pakistan Today that the administration had conducted a crackdown against small businesses in the area but no action was taken against the well-off businesses i.e. Heera Charga House and Bubli Sajji.
Similarly, in Lakshmi Chowk, the administration conducted a crackdown against small businesses but no action was taken against businesses, to mention one of them– Butt Karahi.
Mashallah Restaurant has covered the pavement along with half of the road in the area because of the hefty bribes allegedly paid o the TMO officials for the purpose.
Imran questioned the double standards of the authority and said that how a petty hawker, like me, can provide for his family if he has to pay such big amounts to the authorities. “I have to pay a large sum in order to set my stall,” he said.
Imran claimed that town officials in the name of anti-encroachment drives they sell our food and other stuff and carts if we don’t submit to their demands or pay them at first sight.
Imran’s claims were corroborated by Usman, another hawker, who said that hawkers and roadside vendors were made to pay for the continuation of their businesses on the road.
We are left with no choice, as the only option we are left with is to pay the bribes to the TMO officials in order to save our [vendors] source of income,” he said.
Data Ganj Town TMO Iqbal Fareed said any officer involved in taking bribes will be dealt severely as I am an honest officer and I make sure that no one under my authority resort to such activities.
He put the blame on his ‘rivals’ and said such propaganda is being propagated by the people who wish harm to his social and administrative standings. He further said that the motives behind such activities were nothing, but jealousy.