Karachi Elevated Expressway-2

Club Road hotels need to give up land for new expressway

By Jamil Khan/Urooj Zia/Uroos Ahmed | KARACHI

THE proposed Karachi Elevated Expressway (KEE) will need to acquire a 17-metre wide section on Club Road for which it will need land from the five-star hotels located there, Daily Times has learnt. Also, 11,000 trees will have to be chopped down to make way for the expressway.
A public hearing for the KEE is scheduled to take place today at 10:00 a.m. at the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) office. The CDGK’s Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report on the project lists the land that will be needed. It will have to come from the Pearl Continental Hotel (PC), the Karachi Gymkhana, and the (defunct) Metropole Hotel bottleneck in the northern section and Qasr-e-Naz and the State Guest House in the south in addition to Regent Plaza, Sea Breeze Plaza, Navy residential area and the Aisha Bawany School. A small strip of land will need to be acquired from the FTC near the HIR Interchange along the CSD Shop to the bridge over the nalla from the Karsaz area and the Central Store Depot near the Drigh Road Station.
“We’re certainly not giving up any land,” said Regent Plaza administration and HR head, Abdul Sattar. “The matter has been referred to the Pakistan Hotels Association (PHA).”
PC Hotel has also referred the matter to the PHA. “We always welcome projects undertaken by the government for the betterment of the city,” PC marketing and public relations manager, Asif Iqbal, told Daily Times. “We haven’t been approached yet about land acquisition. The matter has, however, been referred to the PHA – the authority that manages the rights of hotels, so it will be liasing with the city government.”
According to the FTC management, the land there belongs to the federal government, and the project is managed by a private firm – the FTC Management Company (Pvt) Ltd (FMCL). The stakeholders include the CSD, [a secret agency], the Trading Corporation of Pakistan, the HBFC, the TDAP, the Pak-Kuwait Investment Corporation, the Pakistan-Libya Holding Company, the Pakistan Automobile Corporation, etc, explained FMCL DBM and Administrator Auditorium, Niaz Ali Mahar. “The [FTC] project belongs to the Federal Government, not the provincial government or the CDGK. We haven’t been officially informed about any land acquisition. If they [the CDGK] need the land outside the FTC boundary wall, they can have it. If they ask for land within the boundary wall, however, our management committee will sit down over it and decide what has to be done.” To say anything right now would be too premature, Mahar implied.
According to the property laws of Pakistan, however, all land belongs to the State, and is leased out for 99 years. “If the CDGK does not already have an interim power to acquire private land, then that can be accomplished by passing legislation via Parliament,” said Irshad Abdul Qadir, a teacher of land law. “This lease can be renewed at the end of the 99-year period, or with a year left in the running. In Pakistan, there is a Sindh Motorway Act which enables the government to negotiate with parties who have the title to the land. The government can then offer to buy the land at the market price, or compensate by providing an alternate location.”
Legal advisor Afzal Khan said that it did not matter what the hotel association wanted. “If they think this is unfair, they can contest it in a court of law. The law of the land, however, says that all land belongs to the state and the state can take over the land with appropriate compensation,” he said. “The right to build for the benefit of the public only is classified under the same category so even if there is a suit filed there are minimum chances of the hotel association getting an order in its favour.”
The KEE project proposed to construct a 24-kilometer long, four-lane expressway which will stretch from Jinnah Bridge (Native Jetty) at Keamari to Quaidabad. There will be six entry and exit points; Quaidabad, Stare Gate, Karsaz, Shahrah-e-Quaideen, Hotel Metropole, and Jinnah Bridge as vehicles using this expressway will be required to pay a toll.
Architects and urban planners have already expressed their reservations for the project. “Shahrah-e-Faisal, which served the city before Partition is not designed for this purpose,” said architect Arif Belgaumi.
The Institute of Architects of Pakistan’s Ejaz Ahed pointed out that the city government’s report does not mention who conducted the EIA survey. “The government said that the KEE will be used as a highway but within its own EIA report it mentioned that at some specific points (Hotel Metropole, Club Road, PIDC Bridge) the speed will be reduced between 50 to 80 km which is not the standard for a highway,” he said.
Ahed said that if the city government claimed this was a strategic road to connect two major ports and the airport, then there should be an alternative as freight traffic should not be pass through the heart of the city. This should happen on the Northern Bypass. Realistically, there is very limited traffic between the airport and the two ports.
The IAP experts added that the KEE also does not serve any of the industrial estates – There is no direct access to the KEE from Korangi, SITE and North Karachi except through residential neighbourhoods.
The proposed six entry and exit points will merge on Shahrah-e-Faisal which will worsen the traffic situation. “There is no entry or exit at Jinnah Airport as airport traffic will exit at Star Gate intersection and merge with Shahrah-e-Faisal traffic till the airport intersection. Similarly, there is no interchange at either Rashid Minhas Road or the Finance Trade Center (Christian Cemetery). Residents of Gulshan-e-Iqbal and DHA would have to exit earlier and merge with Shahrah-e-Faisal traffic. The design is compromised by the physical limitations of the Shahrah-e-Faisal corridor and it will serve to make a bad situation much worse,” they added.
Every town’s center should be developed as a business district so there will be no need to visit Saddar area for anything. “Earlier the city center was Saddar but now Hassan Square has become the center of city as the city spread over 3,600 square kilometers,” one of the urban planners suggested.
The KEE will effectively place a roof over the existing roadway, substantially cutting off sunlight and air. The increased traffic load on the Shahrah-e-Faisal corridor and the construction of the KEE will greatly increase pollution which will be trapped by the tall buildings.
The KEE will obscure the facades of every building that it will cross and depreciate real estate values.
Furthermore, there are also doubts on KEE’s financial status. The price tag has grown from the initial $225 million to $350 million (Rs 21 billion). The developer is expected to recover its investment by collecting tolls from all vehicles over the first 20 years of its life. This means that the KEE operator will need to collect Rs 1.05 billion per year or more than Rs 2.876 million per day. If the average toll per vehicle per trip is set at Rs 20 that would amount to 143,835 cars per day using the KEE. Divided between the six entry/exit points, that amounts to almost 24,000 cars per exit per day or one car every 3.6 seconds. It would seem unlikely that the CDGK’s financial claims about this project will be realized, they added.
The IAP experts suggested an on-grade highway along the Malir River bed and the development of the under-construction road through the Korangi Industrial Area into an expressway.
“I suggest that the Jinnah Bridge, Mai Kolachi, Khayaban-e-Saadi, Sunset Boulevard, Korangi Road corridor to Quaidabad should be developed as an alternative,” said urban planner and architect Arif Hassan. “The congestion along this corridor can be overcome easily by elevating the expressway between Submarine Chowrangi and South Circular Avenue and building flyovers wherever necessary to make the corridor signal-free.”
-Published in Daily Times | April 02, 2007

~ by jamilkhan on June 16, 2008.

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