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Kiosk chaos: Sky-high prices at Lake View Park

ISLAMABAD: The kiosks’ owners at Lake View Park have been found selling snacks and beverages at almost double their listed prices.
The park, established by Capital Development Authority (CDA) adjacent to Rawal Lake, is a bustling place where a number of families regularly visit.

However visitors have been quite vocal about how inflated prices leave a bad taste by the time they leave.

Cabin owners sell most items at 50 to 100 per cent markup, and visitors, who have no other option, end up paying through the nose.
“I was shocked to hear the rates of many items,” said Asfaq Kawsar, a private college student from Rawalpindi.

He noted that cold drinks which cost between Rs15 to Rs18 at general stores are sold for Rs30 and small bottles of mineral water which normally cost Rs15 are sold for Rs25 to 30 at the park. A cup of tea costs Rs20 to Rs25 compared to Rs10 to Rs15 at most places.

Kiosk operator Kamran Ahmed called it a “matter of routine”. He said prices of most items at recreation areas are always a bit higher than the market, but was visibly uncomfortable when asked to justify the extent of markup.

He said he paid Rs1,000 daily to the owner of the cabin, who got it from the Capital Development Authority (CDA). Most kiosk operators would run into losses if they did not charge higher prices, he added.

Umair Hayat, who works for a private company, was visiting the park with his family. He appreciated that the government had built a beautiful park, but felt the need for some oversight to keep profiteers at bay. He said the rate of a small bowl of chicken corn soup is Rs60 to 70 in the park as opposed to Rs30 to 40 elsewhere. Official sources said CDA charges Rs30,000 per year from the actual holders of each kiosk, but the owners often rent them out at much higher rates. The official added that most cabins have been allotted to people linked with the ruling political parties.

When contacted, Director Parks Asif Majid said the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Administration is responsible for regulating prices in the city and the CDA’s job is only to maintain the park.

Islamabad Deputy Commissioner Amir Ali Ahmed said that he would recommend CDA to order all cabin owners to display their rates lists.

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