KARACHI  -   City Mayor Wasim Akhtar said on Thursday that work on allocation of shops to shopkeepers affected by the anti-encroachment operation would start within a week.

He said these shops would be allocated through balloting, which would be held at Karachi Commissioner’s Office in the presence of two representatives each from various markets.

The mayor said that shopkeepers would be given an opportunity to do their business in a transparent manner and officers who promoted encroachments would be identified too. He said that politically his party suffered the most and financially the Karachi Municipal Corporation (KMC) lost revenue. “Traders were affected in the Empress Market operation, but a lot of illegal activities were also going on there. “We have to bear some losses in order to make things right in the city,” he said.

He expressed these views while addressing members of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry on a visit to the KCCI on Thursday. Metropolitan Commissioner Dr Syed Saif-ur-Rehman and other KMC officers along with office bearers of KCCI were also present on this occasion.

Akhtar was of the view that he addressed people’s problems from day one and he knew the problem of every registered trader. He said the chamber however delayed this issue as demands made today were almost met.

“Balloting for alternative shops for affected shopkeepers will be held next week at the Commissioner’s Office and traders’ representatives were in our contact regularly. We will give alternative to our tenants and we will not leave these people helpless. The Supreme Court had directed to complete this work in fifteen days but we asked for a month’s time so these people could have some time,” he said.

The mayor said this wrongdoing was not the product of a single day but fifty years old problem that had to be tackled someday. The court had called this wrong that shops were built on park’s land as this was not the place for commercial activities. That’s why these had been removed.

He said all those who utilized government land wrongly will get nothing. KMC had given them 4 X 4 shops and they did all illegal and wrong works like establishing hotels, warehouses and ice factories which was not right in any way. He said the weekly report of anti-encroachments being submitted on Friday.

The mayor said that KMC could seek legal option by vacating our shops after serving notice to the tenants and KMC was not bound to give them any alternate but this being done on humanitarian basis.

He said hawkers’ zone should be established for push carts owners and other such vendors so they also have the opportunity to earn respectable livelihood. I have limited powers and still working on improvement in the city. Traders in Karachi should also know this.

Akhtar asked the KCCI to donate or help in removing the debris in the city. He said Karachi should get water and gas according to its needs as progress in Karachi would mean progress of the country.

Earlier the president of KCCI Junaid Ismail presented welcome address whereas Siraj Qasim Teli, Zubair Motiwala and former president A.Q. Khalil also spoke.