Karachi Elevated Expressway-1

Citizens and experts reject Karachi Elevated Expressway

By Jamil Khan | KARACHI

SPEAKERS at a public hearing on the proposed Karachi Elevated Expressway (KEE) from Shahrah-e-Faisal to MT Khan Road Tuesday rejected the idea of putting the 24-kilometer long expressway in the heart of the city.
The hearing was held at the office of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Korangi to discuss the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report.
Shahid Lutfi, a member of the consultant firm, presented a detailed briefing on the project to highlight its purpose and objectives, while another member Lim Kim Oum highlighted technical details.
Arif Hassan, renowned architect and chairman of the Urban Resource Center, said that the concept of building the KEE in the middle of the city was flawed and should not be implemented at any cost. “A number of developed countries are considering demolishing expressways in their cities to get rid of the environment-related complications that expressways create, but now the government of Karachi has adopted such nonsensical ideas,” he said. He termed the EIA a rubber stamp that was being used by the City District Government Karachi (CDGK) to implement its own wishes. “The recently compiled EIA does not mention any other important arteries and the consultants have failed to provide any valid justification for constructing the KEE,” he stated. Hassan suggested that the government consider the other route from Mai Kolachi, passing through Khayaban-e-Saadi, Sunset Boulevard and Korangi Road, to Quaidabad in order to provide easy access to heavy traffic between the two ports.
In response to Hassan’s allegation about the EIA, EPA Director General Abdul Malik Ghauri said that the EIA report had been made after considering all aspects. “The report thoroughly discusses alternatives. There should be no opposition for the sake of opposition,” he said. Ghauri informed the audience present at the hearing that complaints from the Karachi Gymkhana, Shehri, Institute of Architects Pakistan (IAP), consultant engineers, Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB), managements of PC and Sheraton hotels, Pakistan Hotels Association (PHA) and Ardeshir Cowasjee had been forwarded to the city government for thorough consideration.
Roland D’Souza of the NGO Shehri, challenged the authority of the EPA to conduct the EIA. “If we utilised this extremely important thoroughfare properly, traffic-related problems in the area could be resolved up to more than five times,” he said. According to D’Souza, the government should consider training drivers and imposing the authority of law so that drivers obeyed traffic rules for which he cited London as an example where there were no traffic jams despite two-lane roads. He said that the 262-page EIA report did not mention any alternative route during the construction of the KEE and it lacked any emergency shoulder. “The consultant firm’s team includes only one traffic engineer, which shows the negligence towards resolving the problem,” he said, adding that the IJM Corporation Berhad, a Malaysian firm, had been hired to construct the KEE without any tender, which was also questionable. “The CDGK and EIA officials should visit the poor countries of North America and review their tactics of solving traffic problems,” he suggested.
Arif Belgaumi, a member of the IAP, said that the project was devoid of any practical or technical justification. “The EIA report is nominally composed on the format required by the “Sectoral Guidelines for Environmental Reports – Major Roads” but the project itself is not designed with this document in mind. As such, the EIA report is largely an attempt to justify the need for the project,” he pointed out. Belgaumi said that they had submitted a report to the EPA for consideration.
Ghazal Rubab, an environmentalist, said that the city’s real problem was pollution and the KEE would just enhance it. “The dispersion level of air pollution would be blocked and they will need to shift around 1,100 manholes as well as underground utility services from the site,” she said.
Hamid Maker of the Helpline Trust said that the presentation by the consultant firm was unsatisfactory. He asked the city government to let Karachi’s citizens know that what the cost of the project would be and how long it would take to be constructed.
Mohammad Muneer Hassan, former vice chancellor of the NED University said that after completion of the KEE, traffic jams would continue at points of entry and exit, as at both the ends, there was no parking space. He emphasised that the Mass Transit System should be restarted to address to the city’s traffic problems. “The elevated train route would need less space besides costing less,” he said. Dr Nauman Ahmed, an architect from the NED University, underlined the need for adopting a disaster management plan for Karachi as the entire city was on seismic zone II and III. “They should bring 2,000 to 3,000 CNG buses in the city to resolve transport problem rather than constructing this expressway,” he said.
Muzaffar, a representative of the PHA, said that the project was directly targeting hotels in the city and that would further result in degradation of the land’s value as well as their business for the next three years (the construction period). Junaid Ashraf of the PC Hotel said that all five-star hotels, not only in Karachi but all over the country, were playing a vital role in Pakistan’s tourism industry. “The construction of the KEE will hinder light and air of four to six stories as well as blocking the façade of the buildings and that would cause a lot of damage to our business,” he said. “We can see that the area underneath bridges and flyovers is occupied by heroin addicts and converted into garbage dumps,” he pointed out.
“The city that cannot even pick up rubbish, provide quality education, proper healthcare facilities and other civic amenities to its citizens, is constructing such costly projects to become a developed city?” questioned Durriya Qazi of the University of Karachi.
An expert of the consultant firm Waqar Hussain said that the structure of the KEE will correspond to a magnitude of seven on the Richter Scale. “Training drivers will take 20 to 25 years while the expressway will be complete in three years,” he said. Speaking about the hotels’ issues, he said that only two to three stories of the hotels on Club Road will be affected but after installation of sound barriers, there will be no problem.
-Published in Daily Times | April 04, 2007

~ by jamilkhan on June 16, 2008.

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