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1- THE REVITALIZATION OF KARACHI
2- KESC VS INDUSTRIALISTS
3- THE TRADE DEFICIT

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JBIC STUDY AND THE REVITALIZATION OF KARACHI

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By MUHAMMAD BASHIR CHAUDHRY

Aug 16 - 22, 2004
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The Japan Bank for International Co-operation (JBIC) has, since April 2004, reportedly initiated a study, which aims at proposing to the government a vision for future development and revitalization of Karachi as an attractive economic centre. The study team has been gathering views from various stakeholders such as the civil society, government institutions, NGOs, academics, etc, through workshops, questionnaire survey, individual interviews and group meetings. Workshops would be held in Japan and in Karachi to exchange views and to discuss preliminary findings and recommendations.

The study team reportedly has already conducted two workshops at Karachi and has already started review of the city characteristics and current conditions. The team is believed to have already met some of the stakeholders. A Japanese delegation on 6th July called on the City Nazim at the Civic Centre to exchange views. The District Coordinator Officer and other concerned officials were reportedly also present. The City Nazim recounted the concerted measures which the CDGK was taking to develop recreation spots and coastal area of Karachi. He also mentioned that six Mass Transit Corridors in Karachi have been identified to provide better transportation facilities to the citizens.

It may be recalled that the Sindh Governor, speaking at a meeting at Governor House on 23rd April 2004 had reportedly stressed upon implementation of a coordinated plan for Vision Karachi. The Governor said that Karachi is the seventh largest city of the world and an emerging economic hub of the region and Vision Karachi should be accomplished by making available modern facilities such as infrastructure, health, education, tourism and recreation. He added that coastal areas, international shopping plaza, theme parks, light rail, education and health sectors would be developed on international standards. All efforts were aimed at bringing improvement in life standard of common man and provide facilities to the citizens and the tourists. He reportedly directed the concerned officers to formulate a master plan in this respect and devise clear strategy and schedule for all the projects.

The study team has been working on the study. The newspapers have reported the exchange of views in the Second Workshop held in this context at Karachi on 8th July 2004. Some of the points that emerged from discussion include the need for upgrading of industrial infrastructure, implementation of police reforms, special focus for resolving problems of industry, lack of new jobs opportunities with adverse effects on the peace of civil society, need for improvement in quality and quantity of education, lack of amusement and entertainment opportunities, need for harmony in communities rather than conflict, policy planning needed for cheap and efficient transport and organized traffic, administrative and legal reforms in the bodied managing land, housing, water supply, drainage and sanitation, solid waste management and electricity; need for public private partnership in the service sector, building of the Southern By-Pass, etc. The problems of Karachi are deep-rooted and resolution of each problem needs a critical study through frank discussion among the stakeholders.

Karachi, the most important city in the country, has not been receiving the patronage or development funding it deserved for its revitalization and development. At one time, Karachi was known as the City of Lights but over the years the quality of life and the standard of infrastructure has deteriorated. The present government has provided special Karachi Package for developing certain infrastructure but much more needs to be done. The projects/problem areas identified by the Governor as well as the issues emerging from different workshops/discussions are important and should be taken up by the concerned authorities without any further loss of time. The matters finally included in the JBIC report expected in August 2004 might be examined carefully for implementation. However, the authorities are also urged to heed the ideas and suggestions of the majority of the Karachiites who wish for a peaceful and prosperous life in Karachi.

 

 

You talk to an average old Karachiite about Karachi of yesterdays. He or she would open up with nostalgia and talk about its cleanliness, peaceful atmosphere with little fear of mugging or robberies, cheap and convenient transport, numerous eating places mostly run by the people of Iranian origin, regular electric and water supply, a large number of well-kept parks for children and grown-ups, harmony in the people from different areas and communities, easy availability of accommodation at low rent, ample job opportunities, educational institutions providing quality education at nominal fees, hospitals offering health services at reasonable charges, etc. The aged Karachiites earnestly wish for those times to return and would certainly pray for those who make it happen.

The young Karachiites, though more modern and worldly, wish to live in a city where life and property are secure without fear of mugging, decoity or kidnap for ransom, the law enforcement agencies are cordial, streets roads and footpaths are clean of solid waste, no overflow of sewerage water or pools of stagnant water, no beggars at roads or footpaths or public places frequented by the people, no encroachment particularly of footpaths which should be exclusively for walking of visitors and tourists, smooth flow of vehicular traffic on all important roads in spite of the VVIP movement, tourists friendly transport arrangements and clean modes of public or private transport. These innocent desires are known even without JBIC report and can easily be managed by the authorities for our people. The same facilities are desired by the foreign investors/tourists in a country before they decide to invest or plan a holiday. We should all resolve to provide that.

We should be thankful to the government of Japan for JBIC study and remain in touch with JBIC for technical assistance, grants and loans to implement different development projects for revitalization of Karachi. Earlier, the World Bank and the ADB had on 26th April jointly offered around $800 million to help undertake a five-year Mega City Renewal Programme (MCRP) to rehabilitate Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi and Peshawar. These international financing institutions have, according to press news, agreed to help stop the running down of these important cities. The World Bank and ADB are the source of technical assistance grants and loan funds for various development projects. At a time when own resources are insufficient for financing development, loans and grants from these institutions, in my opinion, are the best for any country. However, the benefits of loans from these institutions are linked to the care we exercise in the selection and preparation of development projects; negotiation of terms and conditions attached thereto; and close monitoring of the implementation process. After all they are also lenders. For revitalization of Karachi, these sources might also be selectively tapped.

The government authorities might take measures for improving conditions in the city in areas pointed out by the Sindh Governor, CDGK officials, public representatives, the Karachiites and in the JBIC report. The Sindh Governor has advised preparation of the master plan of Karachi and to devise clear strategy and schedule for implementation of the projects. Master plan is the burning need at the moment and it would help resolve many problems affecting Karachi. Some of such matters are: (i) Shifting out inter-city bus-stands/truck-stands, chemical warehouses, small industrial establishments, etc from residential areas to other appropriate places, (ii) assessing impact of the industrial estates in Karachi on environment and how the things can be improved including setting up effluent treatment plants, (iii) re-establishing the sanctity of amenity plots and safeguarding the open spaces in the city, (iv) areas to be further developed for housing to accommodate the increasing population, (v) finding space for new parks, hospitals, colleges, etc and (vi) streamlining and management of vehicular traffic generated particularly due to ports, airports and different industrial estate. Master plan duly adopted and implemented would lay sound foundation for the revitalization of the city on proper lines.

 

 

The revitalization of Karachi is not difficult provided the authorities as well as the Karachiites resolve to do it together in a systematic manner. A simple approach, described below can do the trick. The first pre-requisite is that all the stakeholder join hands for the revitalization of Karachi. The large stakeholder include CDGK, the Provincial and Federal governments, other authorities/institutions such as KPT, PQA, PIAC, CAA, Cantonment Boards, DHA, FPCCI, the top management of various Industrial Estates and general public. The city governments are said to have real or perceived differences with the provincial government on matters such as allocation of functions, delegation of powers, sharing of funds, etc and perhaps with some of the other large stakeholders as well. The stakeholders are urged to amicably settle differences, if any, and resolve to work together for accelerated revitalization of Karachi.

Normally, realization of project objectives is directly linked to the amount actually allocated as well as the value-for-money achieved in implementation. Higher the value for money achieved, the better and longer lasting, the city infrastructure project. Through good government, the implementation of projects should be made more efficient and orderly, with proper monitoring of the pace and quality of work and strict auditing of the expenditure. The aim should be to keep wastage and leakages to the minimum and make the entire process cost-effective. All the stakeholders should work together in this important task. It is possible that many of the projects could be locally financed for which the government might consider to induce the banking sector to come forward. In the meantime, the government might consider setting up the Municipal Bank in each province.

The provincial government might consider allocating more funds supplemented by resources from the federal government and the international donors. The CDGK might improve utilization of allocated funds. If any land is to be sold to generate funds, the sale should be advertised well in advance and sale to be made in a transparent and fair manner. The efforts for revitalization might not succeed fully unless there is significant improvement in the collection and disposal of solid/municipal waste coupled with arrangement for treatment of municipal or industrial effluents. This has mostly contaminated potable water being distributed in the city. Compost plants for processing of solid waste or waste to energy plants are being considered but actual progress has been slow. It is proposed that rehabilitation of these areas might be prioritized in collaboration and with the support of other stakeholders particularly the industries.

Revitalization of Karachi can be easily undertaken, despite resource constraints, provided we first revive the spirit of sacrifice for common good. We should resolve not to encroach under any pretext open public spaces or amenity plots of land which should never be contracted or leased out for building or developing projects on any basis including BOT. Open spaces to be protected and enhanced. We should resolve not to be a party involved in conversion of amenity plots to commercial or residential plots. Some of the public sector employees, due to uncertainty of service security, are said to indulge in unhealthy practices for providing economic security to the families by using public office for the private good. We should be content to whatever is rightfully ours and learn to live within our means. In whatever capacity we are employed, we should perform our duty honestly and diligently. The government might provide to all its employees service security, reasonable pay package, training, medical facilities and houses on retirement.