Islamabad: A 10×10 feet crockery shop in the Main Bazaar of Punjab’s Sheikhupura district was rented for whopping monthly rent of Rs1.25 billion (Dh29.592 million) during auction of shops owned by the municipal administration.
Under “normal” circumstances, the shop, ‘Gulshan Crockery’, would fetch a monthly rent of Rs22,000. But as the auction of the shops began under supervision of the Municipal Officer of the District Sheikhupura, two groups of traders locked horns in an attempt to get possession of the shop.
They kept raising the bid money and it stopped after a 4-hour process after the trader, Zubair Bhatti, who is already in possession of the shop, made the highest-ever bid.
The shops belonging to the municipal committee have been under the custody of traders for years, and the municipal government used to charge them monthly rent.
However, recently, it was decided to revise the rent, and a public auction was arranged in which the shopkeepers, traders and business community of the city participated.
Bhatti said he had an emotional bond with the shop, as his father started his business in this shop. “In a way, it is our ancestral shop,” he said. “Moreover, we have a store to keep warehouses at the back of the shop.”
However, when asked if he would pay the jaw-dropping amount, he said he would re-negotiate with the authorities as “of course the shop was not worth that amount”.
Some shopkeepers and traders termed it quite unfortunate that a section of traders were out to dislodge those who were doing businesses in the shops for decades.
By offering fake bids, they wanted to destroy our businesses, said a trader of the Main Bazaar adding, they wanted so merely to satisfy their ego as no one would give such a huge amount for an ordinary shop.
Some shops in the nearby market were rented out for even Rs5 million (Dh118,371), said they.
Chief Municipal Officer Ahsan Inayat Sindhu said in case a trader failed to pay the rent amount after winning the bid, he would lose the Rs50,000 (Dh1,183) auction fee paid before the start of the auction as guarantee.
Bhatti told the media that the auction took place after a 40-year gap.
According to official figures, the Sheikhupura Municipal Administration collected rental income of around Rs12 million (Dh284,092) per month. However, after the auction, the rental income should be around Rs70 million.