LAHORE: The Data Ganj Bakhsh Town (DGBT) administration says it will start construction of four food streets within a month.
Ali Abbas Bukhari, the DGBT town municipal officer (TMO), told The Express Tribune that the administration was determined to execute the plan and development funds for the projects were available.
“I want to make sure the work starts this month. It might take some more time, but it definitely will be done,” he said.
Bukhari said that the town administration was earning enough revenue through commercialisation fees to fund the projects.
But other officials of the DGBT were incredulous about the TMO’s claim to have sufficient funds. They said that the projects might take much longer than the TMO expected, if they were executed at all.
The four roads selected by the DGBT for building food streets are Alamgir Road in Krishan Nagar, Mehar Road in Rajgarh, Nabha Road in Old Anarkali, and a section of the road in front of Data Darbar, starting from Pilot Hotel and ending at Shahzad Hotel in Bhati Chowk.
According to the office of the TMO, the estimated cost converting the rods to food streets will be Rs12.214 million for Alamgir Road; Rs6.873 million for Mehar Road; Rs3.73 million for Nabha Road; and Rs5.063 million for the road in front of Data Darbar. The development work will include building sidewalks, fibre glass shades, street lights and carpeting of the roads.
Three of these roads apart from the road in front of Data Darbar are already occupied by restaurants and food kiosks.
Bukhari said that converting Nabha Road into a food street was the first priority. He said that negotiations with a few sponsors to revamp road were underway.
About Alamgir Road and Mehar Road, he said that around 80 per cent of the shops on these roads were already in the food business and were visited by a large number of customers.
What about parking spaces?
The restaurant owners have welcomed the town administration’s plan and are hopeful about its success. Some of them, however, expressed reservations about the parking issues that might arise due to roadside sitting arrangements for their customers.
Malik Haroon, a restaurant owner at Alamgir Road, said that the plans should include the creation of a proper parking area.
“Parking is the main issue in this area. There is no free land that can be used as a parking lot by the food street customers.” He said the shop owners would cooperate with the administration and take care of the installations on the streets. Kashif Ali, a shopkeeper near Data Darbar, voiced concern over the homeless people and shrine visitors who spent their days on footpaths in the area. “Most of them are drug addicts and would definitely be a problem for the food street visitors.”
He said that people were not allowed to park vehicles in front of the shrine, so they parked them in vacant spaces in the streets around the shrine. “The administration should develop a parking plan before they build the food street,” he added.
Bukhari told The Tribune that the administration was also considering expanding the roads. “We cannot stop the food business on the roads, so why not develop the roads and earn some revenue.”
He said that various plans were under consideration to tackle the challenges of converting these roads into food streets. “The food streets will not be closed for traffic as we know this will create problems for the shop owners and the customers as well as for the administration.”