ISLAMABAD – Whether it is scorching heat or freezing cold, the ultimate one are the people belonging to the lower middle class, already pressed hard by a series of unending problems.
People often comment that one cannot blame nature all the time, as the problems we are facing man-made and lies somewhere within us, and in the heavens. The H-9 Sunday Bazaar, although held thrice on Friday, Tuesday and Sunday under the umbrella of Capital development Authority (CDA), is one of the examples.
As many as 2,700 stalls at the bazaar are without electricity, which is a constant headache for both the stallholders and the customers during the peak business hours at the sunset. The CDA had established the bazaar in 2008. According to a CDA official, the H-9 Bazaar is no exemption as two other ones, G-6 and G-10, are facing the same dilemma. Talking to Pakistan Today, Abdul Salam, a cloth vendor at Stall No F-104, said unavailability of electricity was badly affecting his business, especially in the evening.
“Customers select an item and then go in the open to see the colour and quality of the goods on sale,” he said, adding, they always complained that he was deliberately not switching on the light to cover up the faulty goods. Ghulam Akbar, a shopkeeper at Stall No W-12, said electricity was a must for his business. He expected an affirmative action by the CDA and Islamabad Electric Supply Company (IESCO) authorities.
Akbar said he along with other stallholders visited the departments concerned many a time but the exercise proved fruitless. “The relevant quarters are not serious to resolve this matter,” he said, adding that even the streetlight pools were not functioning for the last one year. “We have to wind up our business before the sunset because of darkness,” he said.
A fruit vendor, Rehmat Ali, said he had no storage facility due to unavailability of electricity. He had to bring only a limited quantity of fruits and often suffered loss as the stock got rotten after midday. He said provision of electricity could enable him to sell fresh fruits, which was in interest of his business and customers.
The vegetable vendors also share similar complaints. Some of them are of the view that if the situation persisted they would have to wind up their business to avoid further financial loss. Waseem Elahi, a customer, said Sunday was his working day and he visited the bazaar in the evening to buy fruits and vegetables for the whole week, but he could not judge the quality of the goods due poor light.
He often found the purchased fruits and vegetables rotten after reaching his home, he added. Another shopper, Amna Raza, said many people visited the bazaar in the evening due to their different engagements but darkness created problems for them, including selection of quality items and security.
Customers said weather was on the verge of change and they had to end shopping before 5pm. “Non-availability of electricity is not only a problem in summer but in winter as well. We request the CDA and IESCO authorities to take up the matter on an urgent basis to solve the lingering issue,” they said. When contacted, an IESCO official told this correspondent that the IESCO laws and policies coupled with some reservations were not allowing approval of power connections to the stalls at the bazaar.
“The installation of around 2,700 electricity meters at the boundary wall of the bazaar is impossible, whereas the collection procedure of utility bills is also yet to be finalised and guaranteed by the CDA,” he said. He said the problem could be resolved by the mutual consultation of the two organisations, and the officials concerned were holding meetings and the issue would be resolved soon.
CDA Deputy Director at H-10 Bazaar Chaudhry Kamran said the CDA has held several meetings with the IESCO officials for providing electricity to the bazaar, but the issue involved a huge amount. He said the utility had reservations over installation of meters and the process concerning collection of bills. “There are 2,700 stalls in the bazaar and every stall could not be provided separate electricity meter. Sub-meters can solve the problem but the IESCO has some fears on the proposal,” Kamran said.