Rawalpindi-The main commercial areas of Rawalpindi city are being ruled by encroachers as shopkeepers and vendors have occupied most of the city’s footpaths and open spaces, hampering traffic flow besides creating trouble for the pedestrians.

The encroachers have set up stalls at almost all main roads of the main markets in the city while the situation is the 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.

Several city roads which were widened enough for smooth traffic flow few years back, are now under the control of encroachers.

There are encroachments on the main artery of city, Benazir Bhutto Road, while its service roads, particularly Circular Road, have been fully encroached upon with motorcycles displayed on its both sides leaving little space.

Same is the situation on several other roads like Sadiqabad area, Kuri Road, Stadium Road, National Market, Khayban-e-Sir-Syed, Pindora Road, Dhoke Ratta, Dhoke Khabba and Tipu Road, where encroachers have been given a free hand.

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

Several areas like Adiala road, Dhamial Road, Chakri Road, Morgah, Misrial Road, Kotah Kalan, Dhama More 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 Bisket 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 areas and need attention of authorities concerned as traffic jam for hours has become routine on these roads. It seems that the authorities concerned are least interested to remove encroachments and have turned a blind eye to the problem. Though, a number of anti-encroachment drives had been launched by the authorities in all areas but the situation never changed in the city as encroachments are present in all areas.

The traffic mess on roads creates problems for the area residents and the motorists besides noise pollution.

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, Dhoke Matkal, Bank Road, Ahatta Mithu Khan and other bazaars. The RCB authorities claim of launching anti-encroachment drive regularly in areas under its control but blame lack of staff to remove the problem completely. The citizens suggested that the authorities concerned 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. Altaf, a resident of Tench Bhatta said that the encroachers have occupied both sides of the road and left no space for car parking in the bazaar or even a walkway for the pedestrians.