KARACHI: President Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) Junaid Esmail Makda, while expressing sheer disappointment on unjust relocations of the affectees of anti-encroachment drive, rejected the balloting carried out by Mayor Karachi in which majority of the shopkeepers have been displaced to irrelevant localities contrary to their businesses whereas the space allocated to shopkeepers is smaller as compared to their razed shops and the shopkeepers will have to get their shops constructed at the allocated spaces from their own pockets. It is a matter of grave concern that encroachment removed from one Nullah were being shifted near another Nullah at PIDC which will neither be acceptable to the honorable apex court nor to the business community as they will continue to fear all the time that someday they will again be removed from the alternate location.
In a statement issued, President KCCI said, “Karachi Chamber, which is constantly being approached by the affectees, was totally ignored and we were neither consulted before the anti-encroachment drive nor prior to finalizing the relocation plan, resulting in triggering serious anxiety amongst all the affectees.”
He stated, “Everyone is well-aware of KCCI’s exemplary role played in the rehabilitation activities for the affectees of Bolton Market arson incident in 2009 when this Chamber played the lead role in ensuring timely relief to all the affectees who were fully compensated as per their aspirations and they highly appreciated KCCI’s efforts. However, it is really disheartening to see that Sindh Government and Mayor Karachi never bothered to take our tremendous experience into consideration and came up with a pathetic relocation plan that has led to creating a chaotic situation.”
He pointed out that the Empress Market shopkeepers were accommodated in Ranchhore Line Market, Umar Farooq Market in Khadda Market and in Shahabuddin Market, Khori Garden Market and Mairaj Market in Furniture Market at the PIDC, Jinnah Frame Market in Soldier Bazaar Market, and Baloch Park in Nazimabad No. 2 while shopkeepers displaced in other parts of South district were given alternative places for business in the KMC’s Frere Market.
“Not a single razed market has been provided space close to its previous location and they have been transferred to irrelevant locations where they will not be able to carry on their businesses and we fear that this relocation plan is heading towards failure”, he opined, “It seems that under the so-called relocation plan, a meat or vegetable shopkeeper has been relocated to a location where either furniture or spare parts are grossly being sold.”
“How a meat or vegetable seller would find any customer in an irrelevant location where the visitors usually come to buy furniture or spare parts, not meat or vegetables”, he asked.
He said that the Karachi Chamber was not against the anti-encroachment drive but unfortunately the Mayor Karachi in connivance with few elements devised a self-styled relocation strategy without taking KCCI and other stakeholders on board. “On one hand, our Mayor Waseem Akhtar claims of having just 12 percent authority on city’s administration but he took 100 percent action with full force against the poor shopkeepers in the anti-encroachment drive under the Honorable Supreme Court’s order, which was grossly misinterpreted and misused to hide behind the curtain.”
Junaid Makda said that keeping in view the dedication and sincerity of Karachi Chamber during the last 21 years, most of the affectees, who are KCCI’s members, have high hopes that the Chamber will once again provide them a helping hand and rescue them from the current situation in which they have been completely deprived from their daily bread and butter.
While requesting the affectees not to panic or agitate and remain peaceful, he assured that KCCI stands shoulder-to-shoulder with all the genuine affectees and will continue to approach the higher authorities till relief is provided to the poor masses”, he assured.
He said that although thousands of shops were wiped out from numerous markets but the Mayor has given a mere number of just 1443 shops and falsely claim that he has fulfilled his commitment.
President KCCI asked the leadership of ruling party of Sindh Government to take notice of the ongoing injustices and come up with a feasible relocation plan in consultation with Karachi Chamber which is acceptable to all the stakeholders.
“In the current scenario, it seems that there is absolutely no worth of the loyal taxpayers in Sindh who are bound to face all the hardships despite the fact that they have been timely fulfilling their obligations of paying taxes to the Federal and Sindh governments. The business and industrial community of Karachi alone contributes more than 65 percent revenue to the national exchequer while 95 percent revenue of Sindh is also generated from Karachi yet we remain deprived of basic amenities and have to face all types of injustices”, he added.