According to the latest announcement coming on July 5, 2015, Centaurus Mall has retreated from the fee stipulation policy for the incoming crowd of the Mall.
The change of policy is a result of severe online criticism of the mall’s management by a number of Pakistanis active on the social media. A reason to celebrate, I guess?
Earlier, the mall’s management issued a problematic list of people exempted from the payment of the entrance fee worth PKR 100. The list was criticized for being highly discriminatory, as it exempted from the entrance fee those who were “famous”, belonged to a certain class, sector, industry or country. It was as if the proclamation asked the remaining visitors to prove their buying power through the payment of a measly PKR 100 at the entrance.
“If you have an AC at the office, an AC at home and an AC in the car, then, and only then, come and enjoy our free AC in the mall,” commented Fasi Zaka, a renowned television host, satirist and political columnist of Pakistan, conveying his disapproval for the ‘honour’ list published in various newspapers to bring the matter to public’s attention.
Staff in the mall’s management seeking anonymity said the overflowing influx of visitors resulting from the recently inaugurated Metro Bus service was overcrowding the mall, and this had led to the fee stipulation policy.
They said the management had received a number of complaints from families discomforted by groups of people who ‘loitered’ around the mall ‘purposelessly’.
But how could an entry free worth PKR 100 have improved the situation? What if the rowdy crowd could afford the entry fee? Or did the management readily assume that the boys from the high-income strata could not indulge in rowdyism?
Maybe the authorities deemed it compulsory for everyone to make a purchase at the shops in the mall. Window shopping or having a light leisure time is not a perk everyone could revel in?
I believe, if entry into a shopping mall is determined by the buying capacity or the depth of your pocket, I suggest they put in place a wallet-scanning system at the entrance. That would really sort the ‘rowdies’ from the classier crowd.
With the management now saying that the new policy is implementable only after 8pm in the evening and that the fee amount is adjustable with any purchases made in the Mall, the online media surely has a cause to celebrate.
Despite the extent of the retreat, and the fact that there still is room for much needed improvements, all of us associated with online media in Pakistan may have succeeded in making a difference in the way we are governed at the most basic level. And steps like these do matter, as they reflect on the growing role of online media in influencing institutions and bringing about improvements.