Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Johnson Market in doldrums

Johnson Market in doldrums
By S Lalitha, DH News Service, Bangalore:
Shopkeepers can be spotted staring into the air, a few of them are asleep on their seats and just a handful of customers can be seen in the shops. The present image of the century-old Johnson Market in Richmond Town is gloomy and depressing and is definitely a far cry from the feverish activity that it witnessed decades ago.

No family in the City, who have been passionate meat eaters could have missed out on shopping here. The poor maintenance of the market by the corporation, dearth of basic facilities, absence of power supply, one-way roads and lack of parking, increasing meat prices, mushrooming of meat shops all over the City, modern outlets selling groceries along with provisions, the reasons cited for the downward spiral of the popular market are plenty.

A few remain

From nearly 100 shops which thrived here, around 30 shops can be seen open today. Ex-Corporator of Richmond Town, Niranjan says absence of water supply and the horrible sanitation system are obvious problems faced by the shopkeepers and customers too. Fairoz, who sells meat at shops numbered 9 and 10 says, “One kilogram of meat used to cost Rs 150 five years ago but it has shot up to Rs 220 now.”

The rents the shopkeepers pay will instantly provoke jealousy, as they range between Rs 120 and Rs 150. “The corporation failed to pay up electricity bills a decade ago and the power supply was cut off. Since then, we have installed bulbs in our shops and pay our own bills but the complex and its surroundings look very gloomy and scary during the night,” says Mohammed Zakriyas, who runs a grocery business here.

His neighbouring shopkeeper points to the one-way on Hosur Road and Richmond Road, which prevents customers from passing through this spot. “When meat shops have been permitted in all areas, why will people bother to wade through the traffic and come here?” he questions.

No maintenance

Absence of parking facilities and lack of maintenance by the BBMP and the refusal by a shop owners to pay the maintenance fee have contributed to the pathetic state of the Johnson Market, feels Ahmed Jan, Proprietor of Alfa Car Rentals.

“My grandfather began a business at this place in 1935, providing horse carriages for commutation and my family has always run its business from here. So, I am rooted to the area and am unable to get away,” he sighs.
Joint Commissioner of Markets, BBMP, Govindaraj said that the market will be reconstructed on a Build-Operate-Transfer basis shortly after the tenders are called. On the power supply problem, he said, “I do not know about the details. I will enquire and let you know.”


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