LAHORE: Another mark of Lahore, Landa Bazaar, famous for trading generally used articles, is dynamically keeping its attraction for middle income and the poor, both from here and other far off cities and towns, though in patches it is falling victim to a business of smuggled goods mainly coming from Afghanistan.
A fast spreading parallel markets of cheap and second hand articles, mainly run by pathans and the ones from the tribal belt, have already appeared at the entry points of the decades old Landa Bazaar and undermining its fame.
The market, due to its historical background, is one the most famous among markets of similar nature in various parts of the country.
People come here from all over Punjab, and other places, to purchase commodities for their personal use as well as in large quantities for their retail outlets. Surrounded by some historical places like Saraiy Mian Sultan, Masjid Gung Shaheed, the world renowned Presbyterian Church, Don Bosco High School, building of a former Polices line, Delhi Gate, City’s biggest Government Poly Technical college for boys, Aslam Khan Road, Railway Station, Railway Head-quarters, Barenth Road, Domoria Pull, Luha Bazaar and Nolakha Bazaar. Lahore’s main haji camp is also close by.In a way the market offers more fun to visitors than a mere buying and selling point, especially those interested in exploring Lahore’s history.
Initially, it is said, the bazaar, only next to the Lahore Railway Station, was a place for travellers’ overnight stay, build by Mian Sultan, a contractor. Gradually, commercial interest drove the place into present day market.
Within its main body the Landa Bazaar has many different kinds of markets, known for their specialties, like the most famous New market, shoe market, ready-made clothes market and Baboo Market. All of them spcialising in one sort of articles or the other.
The congestion problem, as usual with other downtown places, is also experienced here.
When vehicles carrying goods for shops try to reach at the centre of the market, or try to carry articles out, cause a hell of a traffic jam. Obviously, every income class people have to brave this humiliating situation.
The buyers, including shopkeepers and dealers from small towns, however, have to brave the mess created by the encroachers who are mainly small shopkeepers and way-side sellers.
Almost all the walkways are occupied by them, leaving no room for the people to move around.
Interestingly, prices here are quite affordable and much less than other commercial areas in the posh parts of the city. But still you need to be good at the bargaining. The seasoned shopkeepers would on the first sight make a judgment if the buyer is a newcomer, and would announce a fairly high price. If you are new to the bazaar and the bargaining too, make a rough idea by just telling half the price asked. Little wonder if you succeed in getting the article on what price you have suggested. This goes on and on all day here.
The narrow market streets which are already lean get further congested with the unlawful stalls.
This makes it extremely difficult to even walk on foot. Since a large number of people visit this market for buying daily use articles at relatively lower prices, they find it embarrassing to tread through the market.
Adding to this problem is the construction of few shopping plazas on small pieces of land. In quest of earning the maximum, these plazas make small-sized shops which later only lead to further congestion of all sorts.
The vendors, usually are doing the business of small articles like juicers, plastic sheets, replicas of electric goods, lights, garments, , mending watches, chappals and shoes made by re-rolled plastic and fake mobile phones and pocket size radios.
Like other major city markets the Landa Bazaar is also facing chronic cleanliness problem. Only hand-pushed carts or donkey-driven carts are left for transportation within the market. From morning till evening, there is an unending mess of congestion. But the shopkeepers and buyers are now so used to this life; they hardly make a complaint about this.
Second-Hand Cloth Dealers are facing a lot of problems in Landa Bazar due to Government policies. Shopkeepers has said that business situation is becoming so poor due to uncertainty in the country, people did not visit the Market for shopping, other reason for weak business is that season of cold winter had not started yet due to this mostly people did not start to purchase winter clothes. Adnan Ahmed one of the biggest dealers of second hand winter clothes in Landa Bazar told The Post, that they purchased the second hand clothes from USA, Japan Korea, Belgium, Holland, Germany, and other European countries. India, Bangladesh, Iran and other African countries, he added, also purchased used clothes from these countries.
He said he purchased second hand clothes directly from sellers abroad. These used clothes; he said, were brought through Karachi Port, then to upcountry markets and sold to the retailers. He said business conditions had become poor this year due to government policies. Government, he pointed out, had imposed a heavy Import Duty on the this trade, instead of providing relief to importers of second hand clothes, because poor people purchased from Landa Bazar and they could not pay a price which was inclusive of taxes.
Import code used for used clothing, shoes, toys, and ladies’ bags had come under the tax net. Another problem of second hand clothes’ dealers is that they receive their consignment from European countries within 30 days at Karachi port, but they received their consignment from Karachi to Lahore in about six months, due to non cooperative attitude of Pakistan Railways.
The delays, he said, caused reasonable losses to dealers. He suggested running a special train from Karachi to Lahore to bring used cloths for the upcountry consumers.
Market sources said that generally supply of fabrics was made from late August to October.
The articles, they said, were generally stored for the season, and taken out for seasoning and assorting according to the demand Landa Bazaar Traders’ Association President, Salahuddin, told The Post that every effort was being made to keep the market clear of encroachments. But, he added, it was not an easy task.
Mr Salahuddin, doing business here for the last 60 years these along with his sons, complained about the adjacent Loha (steel) bazaar shopkeepers who at times block the entry points of the Lanad bazaar on one pretext or the other, only to create a scene.
“They (the steel businessmen) want to grab as much area they can to further their interest at the cost of Landa bazaar shopkeepers”, Mr Salahuddin lamented.
The Landa bazaar has also become a proverb due to its peculiar business. Recently a famous TV drama serial was titled as ‘Landa Bazaar’ and scripted on various aspects of life as small but significant as a second hand wooly sold at this bazaar. The drama proved an overwhelming success.