Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Dear Johnson, your market stinks. So does shopping

Dear Johnson, your market stinks. So does shopping

This century-old market needs the urgent attention and intervention of civic
authorities. It's more than a market; it's quintessential Bangalore. DNA's Elizabeth S and Nishant Ratnakar do a reality check of a landmark mart.

Elizabeth S and Nishant Ratnakar

Cleanliness brings back shoppers
1. Broken promises
Walking down the century-old Johnson Market seems like a time warp, all thanks to BBMP which has ignored this heritage market for decades now. Shopkeepers here have been subjected to regular, broken promises of renovation. Now they are indifferent and bitter. Syed, a shopkeeper, says: "Mayor Begum Mumtaz inspected the area in 2006 and there were talks about regular clean-ups of the market, repair of the drains etc; but nothing has been done so far. Why are the authorities talking about demolishing this historical market? All we are asking for is renovation and maintenance."
Sanwal, a vegetable vendor, says: "We are tired of complaining. The floors have holes, the walls look like they have never been whitewashed."
Esther, a housewife and a regular shopper, says: "The market looks like a dungeon or a store house, it should be maintained properly."
Solutions: Renovate the market; make it shopper-friendly.

2. Dirty rest-rooms
A big put down about Johnson Market is the absence of clean rest rooms, which shoppers can rely on. The market has many shops but the lack of facilities to refresh, repells many shoppers from having a bargain here. Existing toilets in the market are in shambles and have not been cleaned for years, shoppers say. Haji, owner of a tea stall, says: "Neither us nor our customers have any facility to refresh ourselves. Muslims usually go to the mosque nearby; others find hotels or walk up till the end of the road and utilise the use and pay facility. And some people urinate all over the walls on the other side and make the market dirty and unhygienic."
There are toilets but no one cleans it, the water tanks in these toilets are also not filled. Flies thrive here. Asif, a businessman, says: "This is a good market. With some maintenance, it can be made very classy. People buy vegetables and their meat here, it should be a clean place."
Solutions: Clean up rest-rooms and maintain hygiene.

3. Shopping in the dark
It's hard to tell it's day, even at noon, if you are in the inner corridor of Johnson Market. The place is cold, dark and dingy. The shopowners on the periphery say unlike the shops in the corridor, they, at least, have electricity. Their concern is the frequency of power cuts.
Maulana, a shopowner, says: "Load shedding is a huge problem. Power cuts happen all the time. There seems to be no schedule for power cuts; this interrupts our business, since this area is so dingy."
Matten, a veteran and a regular, says: "Erratic power cuts are a major irritant." But some shopkeepers in the inner corridor of the market don't even have a power connection. Ahmed, a shop owner, says: "The corporation is responsible for power in this corridor; it has not paid the bills for a decade. We can't depend on the authorities to help us out. We have arranged for our own meters so that we can have electricity inside though we are paying the bills."
Solutions: BESCOM should step in and streamline the power supply to the market.


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