By Rafique Chakar
Wide empty roads, incomplete infrastructure; this is not a scene of any ghost town but that of Patkan New Bazaar in Panjgur.
For the past 35 years, the people of Panjgur are waiting for the New Bazaar to become functional so they could also enjoy the shopping in a more efficient and modern way. The new Bazaar was initiated in 1985 by residents who were working abroad, mainly in Gulf countries, and with the cooperation of trade bodies.
Project heads Shoaib Jan Baloch and Captain (retd) Mohammad Hanif Baloch talking to PakVoices told that local labourers working in Gulf countries have spent millions of rupees on this project.
“With their hard earned money the New Bazaar project was a success. This Bazaar is most beautiful and spacious than any other bazaar in Balochistan but unfortunately, despite the passing of 35 years it is still dysfunctional even today,” they said.
“ The old Bazaar with its narrow streets has become a headache for shoppers and shopkeepers alike and all the locals were looking forward to the opening of the new Bazaar“, they told.
Another citizen Haji Noor Ahmed talking to PakVoices told that he had given his life earnings to the completion of this bazaar.
“ I have nothing left now except a few shops. If this bazaar doesn’t become functional soon I would lose my entire saving”, he regrettably said.
A local shopkeeper Khuda Dost voicing similar concerns said, “Keeping in view the rising population of Panjgur and the state of the old bazaar the functioning of new bazaar has become the need of the hour.”
The new bazaar would bring in fresh business and will provide employment opportunities to many people, he added.
Eminent transporter of Panjgur Shah Hussain Agha told PakVoices that traffic problems are rising due to the congested old bazaar.
“A lot of shopkeepers have set up encroachments outside their shops due to not having enough space which has further constrained the already narrow roads and thus causing traffic jams”, he said.
“Due to the immense rush children going to schools and patients on way to hospitals are the most affected”, he added.
Deputy Commissioner Panjgur Muneeb ur Rehman Kakar talking about New bazaar and public problems told PakVoices that practical steps are being taken to make the bazaar functional.
“As a first step construction of bus and truck terminal in the new bazaar is in its final phase and buses and truck transporters will soon be shifted there. Underground boring for water has also been completed.”
“In the second phase the vegetable mandi will be shifted and then rest of the business will follow suit”, he added.
President of the trade body Haji Abdul Malik Baloch accused political parties of being a hurdle in the opening of the new bazaar.
“Political parties are always creating hurdle in completion of work and shifting of business to the new bazaar”, he said.
“With the shifting of business to the new bazaar an economic boom will come in the area and give rise to employment opportunities”, he added.
Rafique Chakar is working with PakVoices as a citizen journalist from Punjgur.
All photographs by the author.
Edited by Aneela Riazuddin