Rawalpindi traders have expressed strong opposition to the upcoming opening of a new vegetable and fruit market in the Rawat locality by the district administration. The traders have announced a boycott of the new market, deeming it counter-productive and asserting that they were not consulted about the initiative.
Boycott Announcement by Rawalpindi Traders
The President of the Rawalpindi Traders Association, Sharjeel Mir, made it clear that traders in Rawalpindi’s Sabzi Mandi in Raja Bazaar would not participate in the new market project, as it was being established without their consultation and input.
He pointed out that the traders currently procured produce from the market in Sector I-11, which was in closer proximity to the city areas. In contrast, the new market proposed by the administration would be at least 21 kilometers away from Raja Bazaar.
Mr. Mir stated, “The I-11 market is only four kilometers away. Due to lower logistics costs, the dealers have decided to get fruits and vegetables from I-11 instead of going all the way to Rawat.”
Concerns Over Past Failed Initiatives
Ghulam Qadir Mir of the Sabzi Mandi Traders Association expressed concerns over past attempts by the district administration to establish similar markets, which had proven unsuccessful. He mentioned that a substantial amount of public money had been wasted on a market near Liaquat Bagh, which failed within two months.
He stated, “Again, the district administration has planned to waste public money… Neither traders nor customers are interested in going to Rawat for their daily or weekly produce.”
Despite the traders’ opposition, the district administration invited representatives to a meeting with the Rawalpindi commissioner. At the meeting, the administration provided details about the new ‘sabzi mandi’ location and urged the traders to start operations from Monday. However, the representatives rejected the decision, citing its unilateral nature.
Administration’s Perspective and Call for Cooperation
Commissioner Liaquat Ali Chatha defended the establishment of the vegetable and fruit market, stating it would become operational on Monday. He called on traders, growers, and middlemen to cooperate with the administration to ensure the market’s success, emphasizing that the market aimed to lower vegetable and fruit prices and create local employment opportunities.
Chatha encouraged local businessmen to contribute to the project, especially in the challenging economic climate. The Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry office-bearers, Rawalpindi Traders Association President Sharjeel Mir, Sabzi Mandi Association President Ghulam Qadir Mir, and other stakeholders attended the meeting with the commissioner.
The new market is expected to have approximately 50 stalls within a 15 kanal area, and preparations for its launch are currently in their final stages. The administration has also initiated road repairs adjacent to the market and other link roads to ensure smooth access for trucks and consumers.
It is worth noting that a model market in Rawalpindi, supported by the Asian Development Bank, is also under consideration. Until its establishment, this “temporary market” is being set up on an emergency basis to facilitate farmers and consumers.