- Commercial activity in Rawalpindi Cantonment Board
- Severe breach of laws goes unchecked in many areas
After the introduction of the Metro Bus Service in Rawalpindi Islamabad, the citizens of Rawalpindi have been given another gift, this time by the Rawalpindi Cantonment Board in the form of a Pedestrian Street on the busy bank road area. The Pedestrian Street is opened from 6PM till late at night when during this time vehicles are not allowed on the street. The whole street has been renovated, beautiful gates have been installed at the entry and exit points, lamps have been installed that add to the beauty of the street at night, and a parking area has also been constructed to avoid traffic issues.
The street is visited by families in big numbers on weekends, talking to the scribe a visitor to the street Muhammad Omer said that he usually comes to Saddar with his family for shopping and the newly opened Pedestrian Street is an excellent addition which has enhanced the beauty of Saddar and have given families a place to spend their time.
However an overwhelming number of citizens have complained of the unnoticed commercial activity going on in the Cantonment Board for a number of years particularly in Westridge I, Westridge II, Westridge III, Shalley Valley and alongside Peshawar Road. Various schools, private academies, beauty parlors and fitness centers are operating in residential areas falling under the Rawalpindi Cantonment Board, the number of houses in residential areas that are being used for commercial purposes are on the rise and are a cause of massive problems for the residents. Due to the unchecked commercial activity in residential areas streets and roads are often choked and traffic crawls at a snails pace. Long queues of vehicles are seen outside schools and colleges operating in residential areas in peak hours which blocks off the roads for commuters. To name a few various branches of Dar-e-Arqam school, Bahria Foundation and Allied school, City school and Beaconhouse School are operating in residential areas.
At times even ambulances find it difficult to maneuver through the congested roads. An ambulance driver Muhammad Ahsan while talking to the scribe said that it has become extremely hard for him to reach localities in Cantonment Board on time during peak hours as the roads are often blocked. The growing use of residential areas as commercial spaces has also violated the privacy of the residents who now have virtually given up their privacy. A resident of Westridge while talking to the scribe said that it is unfortunate to see commercial activity in residential areas. He asked the Cantonment Board to shift all such commercial places to the designated commercial areas within the Cantonment Board. Another resident upset with a boutique right in front of his house asked the question whether a boutique in front of residence of a Cantt official will also be allowed? He pleaded the authorities to take notice of the torture inflicted on the residents due to such places.
It is also pertinent to mention that many of these commercial places in residential areas are being charged electricity bills on the tariff fixed for residential areas, which is also a breach of laws as any commercial place has to be charged the tariff set for commercial users. The opening of Pedestrian Street is indeed a gift for the people from the Cantonment Board but it also needs to look at more pressing matters like the unchecked commercial activity going on in residential areas which has made life extremely difficult for the residents. Unless these grave issues are resolved the Pedestrian Street will be relegated to the status of a project launched to appease the public while ignoring the serious irregularities and breach of rules happening in residential areas of Cantonment Board.