Two billboards that had suddenly been erected overnight to obstruct the front of the 1920 heritage site of Jehangir Kothari Parade have been removed in a rare display of bureaucratic prowess.
It started with what bureaucrats might call a ‘verbal application’. While covering a meeting, a reporter of The Express Tribune casually mentioned to the Karachi Commissioner Shoaib Ahmad Siddiqui that the billboards had come up. He noted it down. It was July 4.
By July 15 they had come down. He had sent a letter to Deputy Commissioner South Mustafa Jamal Qazi who took care of the matter. DC Qazi could not be immediately reached for comment as he was in meetings.
The two billboards on Jehangir Kothari Parade (above) were taken down by the commissioner soon after The Express Tribune registered a complaint on June 4. PHOTO: EXPRESS
Commissioner Siddiqui said that he had also written to Karachi Administrator Syed Hashim Raza Zaidi about the anomalies in the installation of billboards around the city. The two at Bagh-e-Ibne Qasim (behind Jehangir Kothari Parade) were also mentioned as being erected against the rules and regulations set by the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation.
“We need to regulate the system,” said Commissioner Siddiqui while talking to The Express Tribune on Monday. “We need to synchronise the system of approval [for anyone who wants to put up a billboard].”
Indeed, according to former Karachi administrator Muhammad Hussain Syed, a number of billboards and hoarding have swiftly gone up in Clifton and DHA in the last three months or so. He said that the rules were not followed.
Karachi is awash with advertising. A study by the non-profit Shehri six years ago, pegged the number at 13,000 illegal billboards out of 17,000 in the city at that time.
None of the six cantonment boards turned up for a seminar on the rules organised by Shehri in collaboration with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation in 2007. By an independent count, there are 37 billboards on Cantonment Board Karachi land that stretches from Aisha Bawany school to Regent Plaza hotel.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 16th, 2013.