A satellite town spread over 9000 acres, is coming
up on the most modern lines of housing concepts in the Eastern suburbs
of Karachi in close vicinity to the super highway, is seemingly likely
to open a new chapter in the real estate history of Pakistan's first
port city Karachi.
Informed sources told PAGE that the Defense Housing
Authority (DHA), are the sponsors of this mega project to be called as
Phase-9 of the DHA. Though the scheme has yet to be announced
formally, the DHA which, has emerged as a leading player in the real
estate business, has acquired the title of the land from private
The sponsors of this huge project, a panoramic
addition to Karachi's landscape have a plan to develop the required
infrastructure including utilities such as electricity and water from
their own resources instead of depending on KDA, KESC or KWSB the
development agencies which have already reached their saturation
point, finding it hard to meet the growing demand of the existing
consumers due to resource constraints.
The Association of Builders and Developers (ABAD)
was also negotiating with the government for acquiring yet another
2000-3000 acres of land around super highway with a view to develop
low cost housing scheme to bridge the gap between demand and supply of
the new housing units in Karachi.
Elaborating the idea of developing a low cost
housing scheme, Hafizur Rehman Butt, former Chairman ABAD said in an
exclusive interview that the government in order to attract foreign
investment was offering land at concessionary price to the foreign
investors for development of low cost housing. However, the working
style of the foreign construction companies involving services of
foreign consultants, architects, designs, and other accessories will
be enough to kill the idea of developing housing schemes at an
affordable price matching to the local requirement. On the back of all
these concerns and apprehensions, ABAD has offered to develop such
housing schemes within the reach and means of the low income groups of
the society. Besides, these two huge projects, an array of medium and
large size housing schemes are coming up on the ground which are
poised to give a new direction to the real estate business in
Pakistan. One of such schemes is initiated by Hafeez Butt who has
carved a respectable name among the builders community by giving a
number of quality projects in different localities of the city. His
forthcoming project over a piece of 200 acres of land is the first
environmental project in only 20 percent of the land will have
constructed blocks while 80 percent would be developed into a green
landscape for the soaring eyes. All these incoming projects, in fact
are the glimpses of the coming events in the real estate world of
Pakistan. The fast developing Northern Bypass, a ring road around
Karachi supported by the under construction Lyari Express way have
actually ignited the spark in the construction activity in the so far
neglected area around super high in East of Karachi.
These projects do not portray the actual potential
carried by this port city, which is the 7th largest city of the world.
In fact the real value and potential for investment in Karachi cannot
be overestimated as the city has much more in store. Unfortunately,
this mega city was never allowed to witness the actual pace of growth
on account of resource constraints on one hand and rampant corruption
on the other hand, which have been identified as the greatest
impediments in the way of development. The corrupt present in the
ranks and files of different development agencies always used their
positions for personal gains hence they developed an anti-growth
attitude instead of a pro-people conduct and pro-development attitude
which is the soul and spirit behind the development of various known
urban centers elsewhere around the world. One has to run from pillar
to post to get NOCs for launching a simple project. You cannot get
your building plan and map approved unless you pay extra to the
concerned people and such NOCs and approvals are required at every
steps of the project.
DECLINE IN PRICES
Recently, a sudden and drastic cut in real estate
prices has come with a serious blow to the speculators and the profit
makers, the decline however does not harm to the genuine buyers or the
people because the quantum jump in prices was artificially created by
the speculators by rotating money between stock and real estate
Actually, it was merely transactions of files
amongst the speculators which are reflected in the undeveloped land
transacted by the speculators. Some of the people with their mindset
were taking the jump in prices as the boom in the real estate while
the situation was otherwise. In act there was an artificial rise in
prices of the real estate which does not speak about the real growth
in the sector. Since the stock exchange money was involved in pushing
up the prices, the artificial balloon was high prices was pricked with
the crash the stock market lowering index from historic 10,000 levels
to 7000 points.
The genuine professionals engaged in real estate
business were of the view that even the prevailing prices were on the
higher side of the real worth hence the price decline should not be
taken as symbolic to what it is being described as the slump in the
real estate market.
Actually, the real estate is the most sensitive
barometer indicating the actual state of the economy; it starts
improving in the tail end of all other segments of the economy and
reflects the downfall instantly as soon as the economy starts to fall.
Contrary to these parameters, the economic fundamentals portraying a
strong picture of growth in all segments of the economy. Therefore the
fears of a slump in the real estate sector are being rumored by the
people of vested interest who might have lost some money to make easy
money out of the artificially created price hike.
Undoubtedly, the housing and construction industry
is the most vital sector of Pakistan's economy. On one hand it
provides shelter as well creates jobs to varied section of highly
skilled to unskilled workforce besides providing fuel to downstream
industries associated with the construction industry.
It may be recalled that in early 2001, this
significant segment of the economy was hit by a major snag on account
of issuance of very debatable Ordinance which enveloped into its ambit
all the land that was allotted to various individuals or entities on
political grounds during the period of 1985 to 1997. The fair
allotment of such government land is the responsibility of the people
sitting at the helm of affairs but the innocent people who purchase
this land at the market rate were punished by using various barriers
by the next governments.
Since such allotted land is sold in the open
market, the common people, builders and developers purchased these
lands from the original allottees at the then market price in good
faith and paid the taxes and levies of the government contemplating
that these lands hold valid titles for construction purposes.
Ironically, these innocent buyers had to face
unexpected setback due to no fault of theirs. Consequent to that
Ordinance, all construction activity came to a halt as these lands
were declared as frozen lands. The ultimate sufferers were the common
people who had booked properties in these projects and those
individuals who had built houses on these plots.
Sindh cabinet, in its meeting on January 5, 2005
partially restored the issue of freeze lands. It was decided that all
summaries for the lands above 16 acres are to be sent for the approval
of the Chief Minister of the province. Due to his busy schedule or
whatever the reasons might be, the files of these frozen lands remain
pending for months and months and no progress was seen on that
account. Amazingly, a cruel culture has been developed in our system
that even the genuine and valid files never move towards
implementation unless the chain of the people right from clerk to
higher positions are made happy.
According to the cabinet decision of January 5, the
summaries for pieces of land less than 16 acres were to be approved by
Member Land Utilization (LU) of the Board of Revenue on payment of
penalties imposed by the government challans in this regard shall be
issued at LU level. The matter is moving at snail's pace which had
negated the effect of the decision. The bureaucracy, the builders
alleged, creating hurdles at such a high magnitude that in the last
two months, the numbers of cases approved have not even reached double
digit. ABAD says that the officials sitting at the helm of affairs in
the Board of Revenue are at the height of inefficiency and are
hell-bent to make the decision of the cabinet a big failure. The
government on the other hand is unintentionally falling prey to these
tactics and an atmosphere of resentment even against the good
decisions because justice delayed amounts to denial of justice.
This non-helping out and disgusting environment was
a discouraging factor for the people involved in this business.
Consequently, over 70 percent of the leading developers left either
for Dubai or other parts of the country like Lahore and Islamabad to
carry out their business. Actually this is a serious dent to the
construction industry and calls for immediate corrective steps to
bring the investment and professional hands back to this city.
In this context, some of the leading builders and
developers who were the office bearers of ABAD including its Chairman
Babar Mirza Chughtai accompanied by the Governor of Sindh Dr. Ishratul
Ibad visited the booming city of Dubai recently to show him how
Pakistani developers and investors were encouraged in that fast
emerging economic capital of UAE. Visibly moved on the flight of human
capital and brain drain particularly in the field of construction and
the real estate, the Governor vowed to leave no stone unturned to
create an enabling and harmonious environment to force not only to the
Pakistani investors but also the foreign investors to do business in
DUBAI AIMS TO BE THE TALLEST ON THE WORLD MAP
Some known developers including Manzoor Rufi, Abu
Bakar Sheikhani, Iqbal Memon of al-Mashriq are few of a large number
of developers of Pakistan are actively participating in the
development process of the sprawling Dubai. The governor Sindh during
his visit to Dubai witnessed how Pakistani potential creates a new
world if allowed to work under good governance free from the
bureaucratic chains and the corruption of course.
The picturesque Dubai where high-rises were
offering spectacular view to the investors was an example to follow
for the policies makers in Pakistan.
In a bid to make its mark on the international map,
booming Dubai has once again taken construction to the extreme by
building what will become the world's tallest tower.
The foundation work for Burj Dubai (Dubai Tower),
whose height remains a secret, was completed last month with 192 piles
constructed to depths of more than 50 meters (164ft) and bound
together by a thick concrete raft.
Part of a $20bn project, the tower will be built at
a rate of one floor per week, the building itself is multipurpose
complex, says Robert Booth, executive director of Emaar properties,
which is developing the tower to serve as the centre-piece of the Burj
Dubai District and Downtown Dubai, a project three times the size of
London's Canary Wharf.
"There's about 3.7mn sq ft (345,000 sq m) of
built-up density in the building and it's got retail, entertainment,
hotel, residences, private corporate suites and an observation
deck," Booth said, pointing to a model at the site. The first
portion of the building that we released to the public was the
residences. Virtually all 700 units, boasting panoramic views of
Dubai, have already been sold out to buyers from around the globe.
South Korea's Samsung Corp has the $1bn construction contract for the
tower, which will cost $2bn in all. It is due to open in December
2008. In total, over 500 consultants working around the world on this
project on any given day. They are probably in about 20 different
countries to assemble the leading tall tower specialists in the
The salient features of Burj Dubai indicates that
it will tower over the adjacent Dubai Mall, to become the world's
largest and due for completion in late 2007, a luxury hotel, high-rise
apartment blocks, man-made lakes and landscaped parks, all cushioned
in by a 3km boulevard. At its construction peak, more than 20,000
workers will be laboring to create 45mn sq ft of space for 30,000
homes, making the Burj Dubai site the biggest single construction site
in the world.
As for the height of the tower, one has to guess,
as a mock elevator at the site displayed a button for the 189th floor.
There will only ever be two people who know how tall it is, the
chairman of Emaar and probably the building manager. Actually, the
building is not exclusively about the height, rather it is about
creating a global architectural icon.
Burj Dubai has been designed so as the height can
be changed while under construction. The skyscraper is expected to
become a tourist magnet, drawing some 3 million a year to marvel at
its height and grandeur. About 25mn sq ft of the entire project,
covering about 550 acres of land area, is currently under
construction. The builders feel that it is probably the best located
piece of land in all of Dubai. It is what it is today because it was a
military base for 30 years ... It's the heart of all of the major
The whole project will be completed by 2010, but
the bulk of it will be completed when the tower opens up. Burj Dubai
was designed by Adrian Smith of Chicago-based Skidmore, Owings and
Merrill. Smith designed the Jin Mao Tower in Shanghai, the world's
third tallest. The Burj Dubai development is part of a huge
construction drive designed to consolidate the status of this Gulf
emirate as a regional business, services and tourism hub.
Pakistan's enviable growth rate at 7 percent and
other strong economic indicators have their own role in image building
of the country. Those who believe in opposition for the sake of
opposition were not prepared to acknowledge the ground realities
either to serve the interest of the vested interest.
However, the foreign investors have started showing
their keen interest relocate their real estate and construction
business in Pakistan. Prominent among those interested construction
companies are including Malaysians, Chinese, and Saudi business
Recently, a Malaysian trade delegation has shown
interest in making investment in various sectors particularly in the
real estate in Pakistan.
The 12-member Malaysian delegation, led by Malaysia
Construction Industry Development Board member Tan Sri Dato Omar
Ibrahim, expressed these views during a meeting with officials of the
Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) last week.
Ibrahim said that they wanted to promote trade
activities in Pakistan. According to Ibrahim, a number of Malaysian
companies were already working on various projects in Pakistan, adding
that they wanted more investment/joint ventures in sectors such as
housing, real estate, highways, dams, water treatment plants,
The Malaysian delegation was informed by the ICCI
President Tariq Sadiq said that there was a shortage of five to six
million houses which was increasing by around 250,000 houses per annum
The real estate sector was booming in Pakistan
especially in Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, Gujranwala, Faisalabad, and
Gwadar. All of these cities have their own importance in future growth
of the economy. The situation calls for growth in basic infrastructure
specially in the areas like energy, shipping, rail, highways, schools,
hotels and farm-to-city roads needed priority attention for improving
the infrastructure facilities.
Despite having enormous potential for growth, the
real estate and the construction industry has been sandwiched between
the provincial and local government departments due to clash of
interests. There is a glaring lack of coordination amongst various
development agencies which consequently affects the progress of this
important sector. The procedural delays and complexity of the rules
and bylaws was another tool in the hands of the corrupt to make
personal gains at the cost of national growth. All these bottlenecks
will have to be removed to make things easy with a view to develop our
cities and towns at par with other civilizations around the world.