Yet another day in Karachi

An unexpected influx of wedding halls, superstores and malls sprung up all over city, without any provision of parking

Oonib Azam June 12, 2016

When signal-free corridors were made in Karachi, the idea must have been to provide traffic an uninterrupted flow. This uninterrupted flow of traffic, very soon, became a far-fetched dream for the people of Karachi.

An unexpected and unnecessary influx of wedding halls, superstores, massive malls sprung up all over the city, without any provision of parking. Vehicles, resultantly, started piling up on roads, due to which it became a nightmare to drive, even on the widest roads of the city.

Recently, Imtiaz Supermarket inaugurated its new branch on Gulshan-e-Iqbal’s main Rashid Minhas Road – one of the best signal-free corridors of the city – choking traffic from Gulshan Chowrangi all the way till Jauhar Morr.

Even before the opening of the supermarket, massive traffic jams would clog the road. Over 4,000 people reportedly visited the supermarket the day it opened, snarling the traffic in front of the store till late in the night.

In order to cope with the situation, the supermarket constructed a temporary parking space in the Lyari River, which lies next to it. The entire media was outraged. DSNGs piled up outside the supermarket, exposing how the Lyari River was being encroached upon illegally and how residents were facing massive traffic jams.

Authorities were compelled to take action and the superstore was asked to remove the parking space from the Lyari River. Not being able to do so, within a week, the supermarket was partially sealed from 3:30pm to 9:30pm every day.

What’s most ironic is the behaviour and the way authorities dealt with the situation. Primarily it was the responsibility of the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) to check if a supermarket of such a huge scale could operate in such a heavily populated area and provide enough parking space within its premises. SBCA parking by-laws clearly state that for every 800 square-feet of floor area of retail shopping, a minimum of one motor vehicle parking should be provided.

SBCA claims the supermarket had parking space, but were not sure if they had turned that space into their godown. Even then, it became SBCA’s responsibility to check if the parking space is being utilised or not.

Secondly, the common man on the street had to undergo such misery in the form of traffic jams - all because of the opening of the Imtiaz Supermarket, so how could the deputy commissioner east, whose job is to monitor such happenings in his district, not be aware of this situation?

And lastly, why wasn’t any NOC obtained from the traffic police of Karachi, before opening a supermarket at such a large scale?

Published in The Express Tribune, June 12th, 2016.


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