Rawalpindi-The traders and citizens on Tuesday protested against the decision of closure of food street Saddar by Cantonment Executive Officer (CEO) of Rawalpindi Cantonment Board (RCB).

They demanded the authorities to re-open the food street, or else they would stage a protest demonstration in Saddar against this injustice.

Sources also disclosed that the Commander 10 Corps has also taken a notice of the issue and sought briefing from CEO RCB Sibtain Raza over the decision that is irking the traders and citizens otherwise.

A meeting in this regard was also scheduled for Tuesday in 10 Corps Headquarters, but it was cancelled later on due to unknown reason, sources said.

Some two years ago, former CEO RCB Faheem Zafar had converted a vast area of Bank Road into a Food Street aiming to provide the citizens an atmosphere to spend good time with families having delicious food under open sky.

In the food street from Haider Road to Gakhar Plaza Square, vehicular movement had been banned from 5pm to midnight.

By spending million of rupees, the CEO erected tough tiles in the whole area and decorated all the restaurants, fast food outlets, juice corners and other shops besides allowing the owners for arranging seating in front of cateries.

The food street was inaugurated by the then Commander 10 Corps (now Chief of Army Staff) General Qamar Javed Bajwa during a ceremony.

Talking to The Nation, Amjad, the manager of Shinwari Restaurant, said that RCB CEO has closed the food street and also removed the barriers erected on side of Haider Road to stop vehicular movement.

He said the administration has also asked them to not place chairs outside their restaurants.

“We are suffering from huge losses due to the decision of RCB CEO as the enforcement department forces us to place chairs on footpaths and not in the middle of the area once declared as Food Street from 5pm to midnight,” he said. He said the traders and shopkeepers were not served with prior notices regarding decision of closure of Food Street.

Muhammad Tahir Majid, owner of Hot and Chilli (a fast food outlet) also condemned the closure of Food Street, saying his selling has drastically reduced from Rs15,000 per day to 5,000.

He said the shopkeepers and other traders would not accept the decision of RCB and would launch protest demonstration soon.

A citizen namely Ashir Ahmed also spoke against the decision of RCB saying, “Those visit Saddar for shopping had lost a food street where they used to enjoy food on affordable rates.”

However, RCB spokesman Qaiser Mehmood, when contacted, rebuffed the allegations that CEO closed the food street. He said the administration had only lifted the barrier from Haider Road side allowing vehicular movement in order to avoid traffic rush in the area.

On a question, he admitted that Commander 10 Corps HQs sought briefing from Station Commander regarding the changing plan of food street.

He said a meeting in this regard was also scheduled, but later on it was cancelled by the 10 Corps Commander.

He also informed that the new president of Cantonment Ijaz Qamar Kiyani visited RCB and held a meeting with the CEO and other officers and officials.