Roads, footpaths occupied by encroachers in Taxila

TAXILA: The failure of the Tehsil Municipal Administration (TMA) and the traffic wardens to check growing encroachments made on roads and footpaths by shopkeepers and traders is causing snarl-ups, inconveniencing motorists and endangering the life of emergency patients.

For years, civil society, shoppers and the citizens have been raising a voice against the encroachers, pleading with the local administration to take action against them but to no avail.

As the TMA is not taking any action to end the menace, the impression gathered is that there is a nexus of sorts among the officials and the traders to perpetrate encroachments. It has been observed that traders dumped their merchandise like barrels of oil and chemicals, bamboos and spare stocks of merchandise not only on the footpaths but also on the roadsides.

The situation is so worse that shopkeepers and traders have even occupied roads and footpaths outside the TMA office.

The unabated encroachment on roads and footpaths of almost all major markets is causing inconvenience to commuters and pedestrians even as the TMA authorities and the traffic wardens have become a spectator to the issue. Shopkeepers in the main markets of the city have displayed their items on the footpaths, leaving no space for the pedestrians to walk.

The encroachers in connivance with officials of the civic bodies have also set up their stalls on various points of Faisal Shaheed Road, Railway Road, HMC Road and Taxila Chowk.

Jameel Ahmed, a resident of the area, said over 2,000 pickups, 1,500 rickshaws and 700 wagons daily used the road to access the railway, HMC roads and the Hattar industrial estate. “No one can solve this problem because the traders are hands in glove with the traffic wardens and the TMA officials,” he added.

Malik Zahid, another resident, said it was really disappointing that shopkeepers had encroached on footpaths. He said it was illegal to occupy walkways, walking on which was a right of every pedestrian.

Dr Ramzan Rana, a social worker, said the traffic problems could be solved in just one day if the authorities launched a crackdown on the traders. He said one of the congested roads led to the Christian Hospital and many times ambulances carrying serious patients got stuck in the snarl-ups.

Asma Bibi, a shopper, said traffic wardens had played an important role in maintaining smooth flow of traffic but they looked the whole situation as an idle spectator, adding political pressure was the main obstacle for their inaction.

A shopkeeper, who wished not to be named, said they paid a handsome amount to some employees of the TMA on a weekly basis.

When contacted, Tehsil Municipal Officer (TMO) Qammar Zeeshan said the civic body was well aware of the inconvenience to the pedestrians and motorists and would soon launch an anti-encroachment drive.