The life of one of the oldest flyovers of the city, the Board Office flyover in Nazimabad, is set to come to an end as authorities seek to destroy it to make space for the Green Line Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).
The federal government’s Karachi Infrastructure Development Company Limited (KIDCL), responsible for constructing the Rs16 billion project, has divided the task into four packages.
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The demolition of the Board Office flyover comes under package number two, which costs Rs1,084 million, according to KIDCL’s chief financial officer Bilal Memon. The said package, Memon explained, includes three flyovers at Sakhi Hassan Chowrangi, Five Star Chowrangi and KDA Chowrangi.
The tender for construction of all the flyovers, as well as flattening of the Board Office flyover, has already been awarded, he informed, adding that the demolition is expected to begin in June.
However, according to Memon, a major hitch in pulling down the flyover is the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) line running underneath.
He insisted that all stakeholders, including Karachi Metropolitan Corporation, KCR and the traffic police have been taken on board for the flyover’s demolition.
“The Sindh government’s Planning and Development department has also given a no-objection certificate (NOC) to destroy the flyover,” he said.
Additionally, Karachi Mass Transit Cell (KMTC) DG Athar Khan says the Board Office flyover’s demolition is already approved under Karachi’s master plan.
He explained that the Japan International Cooperation Agency, which designed KCR’s route at the Board Office flyover, has proposed a two-way elevated track for the KCR, thus the flyover’s elimination will have no effect on it.
According to Memon, the KCR will be integrated with BRT’s Orange and Green Line. He explained that there would be a common station near Jinnah University for Women, which would be used by commuters of the Orange Line, Green Line and the KCR.
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When asked if the flyover was going to be demolished through a controlled explosion using dynamite, Tanveer Ahmed of EA Consultants Pvt Limited, which has designed Green Line’s route, said heavy machines would in fact bulldoze the flyover phase-wise.
He explained that the Board Office flyover, which seems like a single structure, is actually two flyovers. Initially, they would demolish the track going towards Nagan Chowrangi from Nazimabad and then move to the other.
On a question regarding traffic congestion during the process of demolition, he agreed that commuters would have to suffer for some time. The service roads on both sides of the flyover are quite wide and could be used for diverted traffic, he claimed.
Mukarram Sultan Bukhari, a long-serving officer of the Karachi Development Authority (KDA), recalls that the Board Office flyover was the part of KDA’s scheme two, under which North Nazimabad was developed.
He said the track of the flyover from Nazimabad to North Nazimabad was constructed in the late 1950s or early 1960s to facilitate KCR’s railway track at the time. The second track of the flyover from North Nazimabad towards Nazimabad, according to him, was constructed in the late 1980s.
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After the flyover’s demolition, KIDCL plans to construct an interchange with another flyover at the Board Office Chowrangi, which falls under the Rs785 million package three of Green Line BRT, revealed Memon.
The interchange would have several loops that support the Sindh government’s BRT Orange Line, coming from Orangi Town to land at the Green Line’s track at Nazimabad.
Several fast food joints at the triangular belt opposite Jinnah University for Women would also have to be destroyed for the construction of the interchange, said Memon. “They have been leased illegally and the matter is pending in court,” he explained, saying it is the Sindh government’s responsibility to have those premises vacated.
On a question regarding the Nazimabad flyover, Ahmed responded that of the three lanes on each track, one on both sides would be taken by the Green Line.
However, he also mentioned that traffic police have shown reservations on giving one lane to the Green Line without widening the bridge, in fear of creating a traffic gridlock.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 26th, 2016.