Lahore Walled City, that undoubtedly holds a significant historical position has approximately transformed into an extensive wholesale market. But, this transformation is also evidence that Lahore Walled City is no longer a place preferred for living, as 65 to 70 percent local natives have shifted to various other parts of the city. The increasing commercialization has resulted in amplifying the problems of Walled City, traffic the most important one. With escalating trade activity, traffic jam is a common sight roughly seen every day, which hardens the movement of local residents. Plus, the narrow streets and poor cleanliness system are added problems forcing people to leave this area. Expressing his opinion, Sheikh Fayyaz Hussain, a local garment manufacturer and who was also earlier a resident of the Walled City said that these problems are something which makes a resident’s life extremely difficult. According to him, “In-case of a medical or some other emergency, if there is a traffic jam, then it completely halts your movement and you are left with nowhere to move.“ He further said, “I was born and lived major part of my life here. However, after marriage when I had children, commercialization and the deteriorating situation of the Walled City did not allow me to continue living here, as it lacked all the modern facilities like proper educational institutions and parks that you could easily find in any contemporary housing society.“
Currently, Shah Alam Market, Sarafa Bazar, Azam Cloth Market, Kasera Bazar and Kashmiri Bazar in Walled City Lahore are hub of the wholesale dealing, that leaving Sindh is supplying material to all three provinces of the country. However, on one hand, if business activity in Walled City is growing than conversely it is losing its housing environment. Majority of the houses left by the locals are bought by the traders, who have converted them into warehouses and plazas. Plus, rising cottage industry of shoe manufacturing is another proof of commercial expansion in this part.
Commenting on this matter, a Walled City resident Javaid Faisal said that looking at the current situation if I would have capital, then surely I would move to a better housing society. He further stated, “Many of my relatives and close friends have already shifted from here and I totally support their decision. From living point of view, Walled City is no longer a fine place as increased business motions have elevated problems here.” Putting across his views, Fazal Hussain Sheikh, Chief Advisor of Central Shah Alam Market Union and a Cosmetic trader as well believes that commercial expansion in Walled City is a very positive sign, but we cannot deny this fact that it has also diminished the living scope in this area. He added, “When you have societies that offer better living facilities and you have resources as well, then definitely you do not want to live in the narrow streets which were built during the Mughal era for defence purposes.” It was in April 2012, when Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA) was given the control of the Walled City from the Ravi Town after the Government of Punjab passed the Walled City of Lahore Authority ACT, declaring WCLA as an autonomous body to manage its entire functions.
When asked from the WCLA as how they are running the affairs there, they said that we still do not have the complete possession of the Walled City as our building control bylaws are still in the formulation process, which are expected to be completed by the next month after which we would be in a comfortable position to solve the issues there. However, sharing their experience, Asghar Hussain, Assistant Director Public Relations of WCLA said that the wholesale market is the basis of majority of the problems in the Walled City. According to him, “The reason why people are moving from the Walled City is because the infrastructural problems there have severely affected their lifestyle. They believe that the commercial activity is hurting their privacy and also due to the narrow streets and cleanliness issues, our children face great hurdles in finding good marriage proposals.” He further said that the cottage industry of shoe manufacturing mainly done in Moti Bazar, Masti Gate is producing tremendous waste. “Shoe manufacturing is a business that easily can be started with small capital, and plus in Walled City these manufacturers without difficulty find the accessories required for shoe making which minimizes their transportation cost. But, the waste generated from it is extremely hazardous for the health of the locals.“
Only in his observation, health facilities are something that is simply available since Mayo, Nawaz Shareef and Said Mitha Hospitals are nearby to the Walled City. But, he totally agreed to this point that in case of an emergency traffic jam does not allow natives an easy access to these medical facilities. Despite of all this, a large part of the residents still want to live here and they are not even against the trade activity. They only want that the infrastructure in Walled City should be improved and their basic issues must be addressed, so that they can live with comfort and ease.
Ahmed Raza is a frequent traveler and loves cricket. He is a graduate in Journalism and works as Assistant Travel Editor for Kluchit.com
24 Sep 2018
24 Jul 2018