Research Analyst
Mar 7 - 13, 2011

Lyari River used to be a perennial water source in the past, which flowed through fiercely especially in the rainy season. A person in his 70s says that until 1950s, the river held clean water and fish, with farming activities on its banks. Over the years, it has become the largest sewage and rainwater dump from all over the city of Karachi.

In 1977, there were torrential rains and flooding in the city and almost 200 people lost their lives because of the Lyari river flooding. This was the first time that WAPDA planners thought of taming the river by building embankments on both sides. This plan was never implemented however.

In 1989, Lyari Expressway (32 km long) was proposed as an alternative to the much longer Northern Bypass (57 km). In 1993, again a massive flood inundated the Lyari River forcing the planners to rethink about a multipurpose project of Lyari expressway plus the flood control channeling of Lyari River.

This river is the main contributor to an estimated 909.218 million litres of raw sewage that enters the Arabian Sea. In 1996, opposition from people during the public hearings let the provincial government drop plans for building Lyari Expressway as large number of people was to be dislocated.

Northern Bypass was considered more effective because it passed through mostly uninhabited area. In June 2001, there was a change of heart and the government came up with the idea of building both the Northern Bypass (M10) and the Lyari Expressway together.

In May 2002, the Lyari Expressway project was launched with the aim of serving as a commuting artery connecting Mauripur Road and the super highway and to alleviate the burden of traffic plying between Karachi port and the super highway heading upcountry. The total length of Lyari Expressway, north and south bound combined, is 32.155 km. Out of this, the 16 km long southern corridor have been inaugurated. This southern corridor consists of eight bridges and two interchanges located at the Gharibabad Graveyard on Sir Shah Suleman Road and Love Lane Bridge in Garden West.

Total cost of Lyari Expressway project was originally estimated at Rs5.1 billion but the actual cost turned up Rs8.227 billion upon completion. Another five billion rupees had been spent in the resettlement of the people, which brought the total cost of the project to approximately Rs13 billion.

To resettle the displaced people, the government launched the Lyari Expressway Resettlement Project (LERP). As part of this project, people were given a compensation package that included an 80 square yard plot of land on the outskirts of Karachi and Rs50,000 for construction of a house. The lands were allotted in newly developed suburbs in Hawk's Bay, Taiser Town and Baldia Town.

By some estimates, almost 250,000 people are displaced as a result of clearing-of-way for the Lyari Expressway project. Officially, the construction of the Lyari Expressway required the demolition of 15,000 housing units and the displacement of 24,400 families living along the Lyari river.


Pakistan's road network is vital for the movement of people and goods and plays an important role in integrating the country, facilitating economic growth, and reducing poverty. It has become the most important segment of transport sector in Pakistan with ever-increasing reliance on road transportation. In 1947, reliance on roads was only eight per cent, however, the roads now carry over 96 per cent of inland freight and 92 per cent of passenger traffic and are undoubtedly the backbone of Pakistan's transport sector. From only around 50,000 km in 1947, Pakistan's current road network is now more than 260,000 km. This includes National Highway Authority (NHA) network of around 12,000 km, which despite being merely four per cent of the overall road network takes 80 per cent of Pakistan's commercial traffic. Pakistan has a road network covering 259,618 km including 179,290 km of high type roads and 80,328 km of low type roads. Total roads, which were 229,595 km in 1996-97, increased to 259,618 km by 2009-10 (Jul-Mar) an increase of 13 per cent. A sizable and continuous improvement of the high type road network can be observed from 1996-97 to 2009-10 (Jul-Mar).


Road traffic injuries cause economic burdens on developing nations of one to three per cent of gross national product. Worldwide, an estimated 1.3 million people are killed in road crashes each year and as many as 50 million are injured. For every death, 20-30 people are disabled, many permanently. Road traffic injuries are the leading worldwide cause of death among young people aged 15 to29, and the second most common cause of death for those aged 5 to 14.

Every day, more than 1,000 young people under the age of 25 years are killed in road traffic crashes globally. More than 90 per cent of the world's fatalities on the roads occur in low- and middle income countries. Almost half of those who die in road crashes are pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists, collectively known as vulnerable road users. By 2020, unless action is taken, road traffic injuries are predicted to double in low- and middle-income countries.


Only policy formulation is not sufficient to achieve the desired goal of reducing road deaths and injuries in Pakistan, if not backed by financial support for policy implementation. Road users in Pakistan deserve better and safer road travel.