islamabad - The beauty of the capital city is getting marred by constant encroachments along roadsides, especially on footpaths in most of the commercial areas.

Encroachments on roads, streets and footpaths in different commercial sectors are on the rise creating problems both for the pedestrians and motorists. Not giving a good sight to eyes, the shopkeepers have openly erected shelters and established stalls in front of their shops which are legally not allowed in any case. It has become common sight in all the markets in the capital city that shopkeepers encroach upon pavements in front of their shops while vendors set up stalls on roads. The illegal encroachments on pavements and roads are forcing pedestrians to walk in the middle of roads, besides hampering the smooth traffic flow. Residents despite repeated complaints are seem to be fed up with the uncontrolled or in some cases even unchecked encroachments in the busiest commercial shopping centres.

Muhammad Qasim, a resident of sector G-6, said that he has lodged a complaint before the civic body to take strict notice of the encroachments in his areas but all in vain. The authorities concerned always claim to launch anti-encroachment drives which are mostly aimed at small vendors or stallholders, he complained, adding that bigwigs always go unchecked.

The apathy of civic agencies is evident from the fact that shopkeepers in the markets of Peshawar Mor, Karachi Company, Aabpara, Faizabad, Bhara Kahu and others have encroached upon footpaths in front of their shops without any fear. A customer at Karachi Company said that it had become almost impossible to walk freely in the market because of the encroachments all over the footpaths as well as on the roads. He was of the view that the Capital Development Authority (CDA) is responsible to remove encroachments from the footpaths and roads but it has failed to do so.

When contacted an official of enforcement directorate of CDA said the authority launched anti-encroachment drives to keep the roads and footpaths clear. It was a wrong impression that the CDA was not cognisant of the situation, he said and warned the shopkeepers and vendors not to encroach upon footpaths, otherwise strict action would be taken against them.

Meanwhile, Aabpara and Melody markets are facing problems due to rising encroachments, poor sewerage system, and lack of parking facilities. The two markets are the oldest and busiest business centres in the city but they are turning into ugly places with immense difficulties for shoppers and traders.

The encroached pavements have made it hard for visitors to walk through the corridors of these markets while dangling wires threaten life and property of traders and shoppers. The civic authorities have turned a blind eye to the plight of these markets situated in the heart of the capital.

Talking to APP, a number of visitors criticised the authorities for not taking any action against the shopkeepers who have encroached upon the corridors and footpaths. Naveed Abbasi, a visitor, said it had become a nuisance to shop at Melody and Aabpara markets. “I live in G-6 and it is convenient for me to shop in these markets but their condition is worsening, making it hard for me to continue shopping here.”

He said the shopkeepers and vendors had not only encroached upon the pavements but also the corridors in front of the shops, making it hard for people to move around and shop comfortably. “Shopkeepers allow encroachers to occupy space in front of their shops, as they get money in return,” he added.

Mian Sarfraz, another shopper, complained about bad sanitary conditions of the markets where sewage keeps on gushing out of drains and staining clothes of the visitors. “Every time I visit the market, I have to face a similar situation where pounds of stinky water obstruct the movement of visitors,” he said.