KARACHI TO HAVE A 'NEW' FINANCIAL DISTRICT

The importance of I. I. Chundrigar Road has been recognized by the policy makers of the country who have recently announced to 'establish' a new financial district

SYED M. ASLAM
Apr 09 - 15, 2007

Karachi's I. I. Chundrigar Road has long been called the financial District albeit unofficially. At times it has also being affectionately called The Wall Street of Pakistan, New York because it houses the Karachi Stock

Exchange, the premier stock Exchange of the country, headquarters of The central bank, the State Bank of Pakistan, and head offices of some of The biggest banks of the country including the National Bank of Pakistan,

Habib Bank, United Bank, Muslim Commercial Bank. Foreign banks and other Financial institutions also have a presence on the I. I. Chundrigar Road the one-and-half kilometer of which also houses the newspapers district at the fag end, Police Head Office, computer and related market housed in three high-rise buildings and an array of other businesses. In short, I. I. Chundrigar Road is indeed a financial nerve center of Pakistan that Houses not only financial but also other businesses as well.

Two of the tallest buildings of the country are located on I. I. Chundrigar Road namely the Habib Bank Plaza, which used to be the tallest building Of the country, until the Muslim Commercial Bank decided to build the MCB Towers in recent years.

The importance of I. I. Chundrigar Road and the vital role that it has being playing as the financial power house of the country seems to has been recognized by the policy makers of the country who have recently announced to 'establish' a new financial district in the biggest metropolis of the country and that too with the short span of just four months.

So what should the official recognition and the resultant official Patronage to the establishment of a 'new' financial district that existed all Along mean and more importantly how would it boost its performance? To start with, official recognition and patronage could definitely help create the ambience and the environment to boost the performance and productivity. Efficient traffic management can cut the commuting time for tens thousands of Workers and to save substantial amounts in transport fuel. It would also help Reduce the environmental pollution- air and noise in particular.

INFRASTRUCTURE

The official recognition would also result in developing of functional Civic infrastructure including roads, buildings, office spaces, side walks, Public eating places, commercial and trading areas and shops. Tremendous amounts of energies, time and money could thus be saved in addition to the personal and physical and mental well being of tens of thousands of people who spend as much time of the day at the newly designated financial district as they spend at home.

For almost a year I. I. Chundrigarh Road has been under the reconstruction. On many occasions it has been closed for public transport for the inconvenience of low and middle level workers who use public transporters to commute to the workers. This has been an extremely discriminatory because the road was kept opened for the private vehicles used by the high ranking officials. A public road should not be close for the public itself who financed it through their hard earned taxes.

The turning of I. I. Chundrigarh Road in to the 'Financial District' Should not mean taking it away from the public without whose taxes the latest project, and for that matter any other project undertaken by the government or any of its department, could ever be possible.

As Karachiites look forward to the 'new' financial district by August As promised by City Nazim they also want an assurance that it would not be turned in to a VIP road used by the top officials working in any of the companies in the district. It should be ensured that the soon-to-be-coming financial district will be accessible through efficiently managed vehicular traffic for all cadre of workers and all range of people who come to it everyday.

I. I. Chundrigar Road should remain the public road that it is after its phoenix-like rise as 'financial district' according to all norms of decency, fair-play and justice.