Encroachment of service lanes, footpaths continue

Karachi: Service road of busy University Road from Hassan Square to Al-Mustafa Hospital remains occupied by encroachers, mainly owners of eatery shops, while motorists, commuters and pedestrians face immense problems.

The main university road was recently reconstructed at the cost of Rs2bn but its portion between Hassan Square and Ashfaq Memorial Hospital has virtually become a fiefdom of encroachers, mainly influential owners of restaurants, eateries and fried fish vendors.

This mafia has not only occupied footpaths but they serve their customers by putting chairs on the service road. Some eateries, especially ones near the Al-Mustafa Hospital have also deputed their people to provide valet parking service even on the Main University Road to their customers. Wearing uniforms with logs of their eateries on them these people help in illegal parking on the busy main road.

However, the role of traffic police and district administration is very questionable as the traffic cops deputed in this area, as well as, anti-encroachments department of the District East are alleged to provide patronization and shelter to this illegal parking and shameful encroachments on service roads and footpaths of the University Road.

At dinner time chronic traffic jams are witnessed on almost daily basis in this area due to wrong parking on the main road and illegal occupation of service road and footpaths. The encroachers have even removed or defaced some of the No-Parking signboards of traffic police department installed in front of the restaurants and eatery shops.

Recently, even the Supreme Court of Pakistan during hearing of a case related to encroachments in the city quoted the example of restaurants of the University Road. However, the provincial, city governments, DMC East, local police and traffic police are yet to retrieve the service road and footpaths of this main artery of the city from influential encroachers.

Previously, the New MA Jinnah Road was the worst example of encroachment of road and footpaths; however, due to very strict orders of the chief minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, situation improved a lot in that area. This successful model of reserving road and footpaths should be replicated at the University Road also in Hassan Square to the NIPA Chowrangi area to facilitate citizens on urgent basis.

It is the right of the owners of restaurants and eateries to do business inside their shops and under no law they could be allowed to encroach upon service roads and footpaths to do business, causing nuisance for citizens.