KARACHI: Karachi Mayor Waseem Akhter has said that the committees and relevant paperwork have been sorted out for the rehabilitation and relocation of registered Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) markets tenants whose shops were razed during the anti-encroachment drive, adding that this relief would not be provided to unregistered tenants.
“All registered KMC tenants will be provided alternate shops at the earliest through balloting which will be held at the Commissioner Office very soon so that they could get back to their routine life while no such arrangement will be made for illegal encroachers, therefore, they should not expect any relief from us,” he added while speaking at a meeting during his visit to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Thursday.
Businessmen Group Chairman and former Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) president Siraj Kassam Teli, BMG Vice Chairman Zubair Motiwala, KCCI President Junaid Esmail Makda, KCCI Senior Vice President Khurram Shahzad, KCCI Vice President Asif Sheikh Javaid, former president AQ Khalil and Shamim Ahmed Firpo, KCCI Special Committee for Small Traders Chairman Majeed Memon, Managing Committee members and a large number of affectees attended the meeting.
The Karachi mayor further said that all associations of markets have been consulted from time to time since the commencement of the anti-encroachment drive and they have expressed satisfaction over the strategy devised by KMC for the rehabilitation of the drive’s affectees.
“Around 240 shops were available at the Parking Plaza in Saddar while a land belonging to the Board of Revenue has also been identified for relocating the KMC tenants,” he said, adding that KMC was progressing well and the Sindh government is also on board regarding the rehabilitation process but the process would take some time.
He said that KMC was receiving a limited amount of funds which are mostly utilised on the payment of salaries and pensions whereas, the remaining funds were being used for development work. He informed that KMC does not even have funds to clear the debris of the anti-encroachment drive.
Mayor Waseem said that the anti-encroachment operation was purely in the interest of Karachi and its citizens as almost the entire city has encroached, adding that the encroached land is valuable and its clearance would bring a major change to the city’s landscape. “Nullahs, parks and footpaths simply cannot be used for carrying out businesses. we will not allow this at any cost”, he added.
He admitted to making mistakes during the drive. “We dislodged a few legitimate shopkeepers in the chaos but efforts to rectify the mistakes are underway,” he said.
Siraj Kassam Teli, in his address, said that all the political parties at the federal, provincial and local levels have never done any justice to Karachi and everyone has looted the city mercilessly. He said that the city has received step-fatherly treatment despite the fact that Karachi, with its huge revenue contribution of 70 per cent, is the only city which feeds the entire country. “We have no problems in feeding the entire country but Karachi must be given its due share and rights”, he added.
KCCI would never speak in favour of such encroachers but will certainly ask who encouraged them to take over these parks and footpaths during the last 40 years. “The elements responsible for encouraging encroachments within the government must also be taken to task. These corrupt officers want to get away and save themselves by completely wiping out all the encroachments under Supreme Court’s (SC) in order to hide their wrongdoings but we are aware of their existence and plans.”
He urged the mayor to take practical steps for minimising the grievances of genuine affectees by devising strategies for their quick rehabilitation. “Any affected possessing rent receipt, lease or any other legal document should be compensated. The KCCI would continue to raise a strong voice until all the genuine affectees of the anti-encroachment drive are fully rehabilitated and the elements responsible for promoting encroachers are punished”, he stated.
Junaid Makda said that KCCI welcomes the mayor’s announcement that every tenant of KMC will be given alternative shops but it should be done on a priority basis
“Alternative places to genuine affectees of the anti-encroachment drive have to be provided on a top priority basis as it was a question of daily bread and butter for thousands of families who became jobless as their shops have been completely flattened and they have no other source of income”, Junaid Esmail Makda said.
He further requested the Karachi mayor to form a joint committee of KCCI and KMC which should be responsible for overseeing the rehabilitation of genuine affectees of the anti-encroachment drive. “It has been 71 years since Pakistan came to existence and the governments have been making fake promises about the regularisation of slum areas but unfortunately, they never enact the relevant Act in this regard”, he concluded.