islamabad - Despite court orders and the visit of Justice Ibad-ur-Rehman Lodhi of the Lahore High Court to different markets, encroachments could not be removed as encroachers still rule almost all markets of the town.

Justice Ibad during his visit of various markets on February 3 to check anti-encroachment operations had directed the administration to take action against encroachers to provide relief to the residents but the situation could not be improved and encroachments are still there. He had directed the authorities to accelerate efforts for removing encroachments from commercial areas and to clear roads and streets for vehicular movement and pedestrians. The justice had also directed the city traffic officer to disallow van drivers to park their vehicles in 4 lanes in Bara bazaar, saying that “Only two lines’ parking should be allowed in the bazaar.”

The judge had instructed the traffic police to clear the Circular Road and ban illegal parking of bikes on roads and footpaths. But the authorities concerned miserably failed to achieve the targets and could not bring a visible change, particularly in commercial hubs of the town.

Justice Ibad had also asked the city authorities in August 2016 to implement court’s orders regarding removal of encroachments from main roads and markets. The court had expressed annoyance over non-implementation of the orders regarding removal of encroachments from Cantt areas, Rawal and Potohar towns, cleaning of nullahs and removal of unauthorised speed breakers on the city roads.  The residents said that despite the court orders, encroachments were still visible in the city and the cantonment areas, particularly in thickly-populated localities and on congested roads. They said that encroachments, choked nullahs, illegal parking, unauthorised speed breakers and large cat eyes on major roads in city and cantonment areas were creating problems for them and the authorities were paying no attention to the issues.

One can visit the city markets to check performance of anti-encroachment staff and the authorities concerned. The claims made by the civic authorities regarding removal of encroachments from the city and cantonment areas have proved baseless because the customers visiting different markets in the city could not find space to park their vehicles.

Encroachers have occupied footpaths creating traffic mess on major roads causing problems for the motorists as well as shoppers in different markets of the city and cantonment. The encroachers say that they have been paying ‘monthlies’ to the inspectors; hence nobody could remove their kiosks. “In case the authorities tried to remove our stalls, we will approach our elected members,” they said.

The encroachers have occupied roads, footpaths and open spaces in Bara Market, Namak Mandi, Jamia Masjid Road, Sadiqabad,  Commercial Market, Saidpur Road, Khayaban-e-Sir Syed, Asghar Mall Road, Ganjmandi Road and other areas.

Bagh Sardaran in the city and Tench Bhatta, Kamalabad, Dhoke Syedan, Lalkurti, Sher Zaman Colony, Chur Chowk Road, Chungi No 22, Dehri Hasanabad and Tahli Morri Chowk in the cantonment.

When contacted, the municipal corporation and cantonment authorities said that they were taking action against encroachers and imposing fines as well, but the encroachers were not following rules and regulations, they said. The encroachments are increasing because of the backing of influential persons in the city, they claimed.

The traders strongly condemn encroachments, saying that majority of the customers avoided visiting the congested markets. “Our business activities are suffering badly because of encroachments,” they said.