LAHORE: While a stroll outside a commercial or residential complex in developed countries reveals clear, clean roads, locals in the cultural capital face challenges in driving and walking around busy business centers. Road encroachments block traffic.
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Despite having a well-developed infrastructure network, Lahore’s roads are full of cars stuck in endless gridlocks due to parking encroachments and roadside illegal food business activity outside popular wholesale commercial centers like Hall road, Abid Market, Anarkali Bazaar, Ichra Market, Mozang Bazar, Moon Bazaar, Raiwind road, Model Town Link Road, Wapda Town, and various shopping centers. Locals blame the city authorities and businesses who let small business vendors put up stalls outside their shops for a daily or monthly rent.
“Service roads and footpaths are built for pedestrians and lightweight vehicles like motorbikes to shop at commercial centers.
A regular traveller, Hafiz Ahmed, lamented that service road encroachments are seen in major Lahore business centers, yet district officials ignore them.
In response to citizen criticism, a senior district administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said political actors within government institutions were the main obstacle to eliminating roadside encroachments.
Shopkeepers and trade groups of various marketplaces also allow encroachers to sell fruits, vegetables, and street food outside their shops for Rs100 to Rs500 each day.
Apart from this, the existence of several motorbike stands outside the House of Justice adjacent to the Civil Secretariat is the biggest example of policing failure’, said the official, who added that district administration snitches leaked anti-encroachment drive details to market stakeholders, preventing any serious action against them.
The official’s revelations are supported by sources that report bribery and political allegiances in anti-encroachment initiatives, which destabilises government departments and makes them vulnerable to political pressures soon after the campaigns begin.
However, some sources argue that a lack of parking plazas and road encroachments are contributing to Lahore’s constant gridlocks outside business centres.
“Parking plazas should be built around big markets so that people do not park their cars on the service roads,” said Anjuman-e-Tajran leader Babar Butt, who did his hardest to prevent parking and kiosks outside the Hall Road Market.
Khalid Dhab, a retired government official, said the anti-encroachment wing is supervised by the concerned Assistant Commissioners and Metropolitan Corporation, Traffic Police, and Lahore Waste Management Company (LWMC) zonal officers.
Officials from the Traffic Engineering and Transport Planning Agency (TEPA) told The Express Tribune that service roads and pathways are essential to road infrastructure and that pedestrian convenience and safety are their top priorities.
We will remove temporary and semi-permanent road encroachments to build and provide pedestrian space.”