Encroachment has long been an inconsequential issue, particularly for Karachi. It is a city where you can be lazy and park, or even double and triple-park your vehicle directly in front of any store, where you can dump or burn any litter anywhere, and where you can erect a building or construct a road in any haphazard way you please. Accredited to the lack of skilled urban developers, many city dwellers have found their once residential area homes lying amidst heavily commercialised zones or treading main roads. This was the case with residents alongside the Lyari Expressway, which remained incomplete for 17 long years. Although the recent removal of encroachment is a sign of development to come, there are aspects that have most likely been overlooked.
Considering the area has mostly housed low-income residents, it is acknowledged that some families were first relocated to Taiser Town or Mochko, rather than being rendered homeless. However, why is it that there is news of only some families receiving a displacement home and not others? Because the road project was delayed, resettlement costs have soared as, naturally, the government is now dealing with a larger population. Although the development of this project is necessary to ease traffic jams in the metropolis, local residents should not be abandoned and it should be recognised by the local municipality as well as the Frontier Works Organisation and the National Highway Authority that inhabitants experienced hardship as a result.
While the new development comes up, it should be standard practice for obvious safety of citizens that pedestrian traffic is banned with vehicles frequently passing through at 100 kilometres per hour. Completing the project became necessary years ago as traffic jams have resulted in ridiculous amounts of time and lives lost in ambulances stuck in traffic. Now that it is back on track, the Lyari Expressway Project should be finished in a tasteful manner.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 19th, 2017.