Rawalpindi - The main commercial areas of Rawalpindi city, Rawalpindi and Chaklala Cantonment Boards have been taken over by the encroachers as shopkeepers and vendors have occupied most of the city footpaths and open spaces, hampering traffic flow besides creating trouble for the pedestrians ahead of Ramadan as the citizens have started the preparations and are busy shopping for the upcoming holy month. 

The encroachers have set up stalls at almost all main roads of the main markets in the city while the situation is even worse in Raja Bazaar and its adjacent markets including Iqbal Road, Liaquat Market, College Road, Liaquat Road, Kalan Bazaar, Urdu Bazaar, Mochi Bazaar, Jinnah Road, Jamia Masjid Road, Bunni Market, Kashmiri Bazaar, Nankari Bazaar, Namik Mandi, Gungmandi, Moti Bazaar and Mughal Sarai due to encroachments.

There are encroachments on the main artery of city, Benazir Bhutto Road, while its service roads, particularly Circular Road, have been fully been encroached upon with motorcycles displayed on its both sides leaving little space.  A similar is situation can be seen on several other roads like Sadiqabad area, Kuri Road, Stadium Road, National Market, Khyaban-e-Sir-Syed, Pindora road, Dhoke Ratta, Dhoke Khabba and Tippu Road, where encroachers have been given a free hand.

According to Mayor Rawalpindi Sardar Naseem, all-out efforts were being made to control the encroachments. Recently a new strategy has been evolved to cope with the problem. Special teams will visit city markets to remove the encroachments from all the areas and daily raids are already being conducted in different areas in this regard, he added.

Adiala Road, Dhamial Road, Chakri Road, Morgah, Misrial Road, Kotah Kalan, Dhama Mor and several other areas are also under the occupation of encroachers.  In many areas the handcart bazaars have also been established. The encroachers have occupied both sides of several roads due to which both the pedestrians and the motorists are facing problems.

Traffic jam is a routine affair on several city roads, particularly during peak hours. Chakri Road, which is nearly 120 feet wide, is shrinking due to encroachments.

About two-kilometre area of the road near the Biscuit Factory Chowk, which has become a hub of vehicle repairing workshops, vegetable and fruit merchants, restaurants, motor showrooms, building material godowns and other business activities, is fully ruled by the encroachers.

Similarly Adiala Road, Dhamial Road, Morgah and Kota Kalan are congested due to the encroachments and hence need attention of authorities as traffic jams have become a routine issue on these roads. Though, a number of anti-encroachment drives had been launched by the authorities in all areas but the situation is still terrible and does not seem to be getting solved any time soon according to the residents of these areas. The traffic jams on these roads have been creating problems for the residents and the motorists.

The situation is not so different in Rawalpindi and Chaklala Cantonment Board areas including Saddar Bazaar, Babu Mohala,  Hatti Chowk, Railway Road, Kashmiri Bazaar, Gawalmandi, Raheemabad Road, Misrial Road, Tench Bhatta Bazaar, Peoples Colony Bazaar, Dhoke Syedian, Chungi No 22, Talimori, Dhari Hasanabad, Lalkurti, Wastrage Bazaar, Dhoke Matkal, Bank Road, Ahatta Mithu Khan and other bazaars.

The RCB authorities make high claims of launching anti-encroachment drives regularly in areas under its control but later blame lack of staff when they fail to remove the problem completely. One of residents suggested that the authorities should launch a comprehensive drive to remove encroachments from an area which should then be followed by strict monitoring to check re-emergence of the encroachers.  Faisal, a resident of Dhamial, said the encroachers have occupied both sides of the road and have left no space for car parking in the bazaar or even a walkway for the pedestrians.