Karachi’s First Mall “Empress Market”
The foundation stone of the Empress market was laid by the then Governor of Bombay James Ferguson in 1886. The market was named to pay respect to Queen Victoria, Empress of India.
Empress Market was built between 1884 to 1889 when walking around the market one can actually see the people selling spices, confectionery, and other things. Yet they look worried about the lack of the customers and definitely uncertain about the future of their shops.
Yez Burjor Sethna, 63, owner of B.D Sethna shop, expressed his concerns about the current situation of the pandemic that has affected shop owners the most. Similarly it did after an anti-encroachment drive that started on the 8th of November 2018. He said that “In 1946 my grandfather’s friend asks him to run the shop when he was moving to India, since then my family is in the business here in Empress Market.”
In 1951-52, it was Iskandar Mirza who let the people have shops in just 200Rs. During the anti-encroachment drive most of those shops were demolished, Sethna added. Even after almost one year, the debris is still there and we do cleaning on our own, even the electricity has been cut off and we have use to generators which costs us petrol of 900Rs daily.
The gallery of the main tower is a way from which one can see the roads, shopping markets of Saddar.
Fahad, 35, A K-electric representative said,” There are some cases going on between the association of Empress Market and the KMC.” Because of that, the KMC has asked K-Electric to cut off the electricity for the shop owners,. he added.
Suleiman, an elderly man, lost his shop during the anti- encroachment drive which he has owned since 1952. He now and he is now sellsing bill books to the owners of the shops that are still functional.
Due to all these measures been taken by the government because of the Covid-19, the shop keepers’ future hangs in the air. The rotten stairs through which we go up the clock tower and stolen clock needles from the clock are altogether telling a story of the heritage been neglected.