Businessmen protest against ban on high-rise buildings

FPCCI chief warns of capital outflow if restriction not lifted

Our Correspondent October 17, 2017
Karachi. PHOTO: Reuters

KARACHI: The Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) put its weight behind the demand of builders and developers who have been urging Karachi’s authorities to drop their opposition to the construction of high-rise buildings in the city.

“The ban on construction of high-rises in Karachi is wrong as it needs vertical construction for being a mega city and the Association of Builders and Developers of Pakistan (ABAD) should be allowed to install reverse osmosis (RO) plants for their projects,” said FPCCI President Zubair Tufail on Monday.

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Tufail believed that Supreme Court’s ban on the construction of high-rise buildings in Karachi was slapped due to inefficiency of the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KW&SB).

The apex court put a ban on high-rise buildings in May on the request of KW&SB on arguments of lack of infrastructure and water shortage in the city.

He said the ban caused problems for the construction sector, which was one of the largest job providers, supporting 72 allied industries. If the ban was not lifted, capital would start flying out of Karachi and the country, he added.

He said government departments were becoming a hurdle in the way of progress and development of Karachi.

He also advised ABAD office-bearers to install desalination plants with the support of Chinese investors.

He said the government was bound to provide housing facilities to the people and it should also provide loan facilities to the low-income group for projects of ABAD members.

Pakistan was facing a shortfall of about 12 million housing units and if new houses were not built, prices of existing units would increase, which would further create problems for the industry, former Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) chairman SM Muneer remarked.

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He said KW&SB had misguided the Supreme Court that high-rise buildings should be banned to ease pressure on water resources. Muneer pointed out that there were many countries including the UAE and Saudi Arabia that had water shortages, but they never imposed ban on high-rises.

ABAD Chairman Arif Yousuf Jeewa said more than 300 projects were waiting for approval of the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA), resultantly a huge investment of more than Rs600 billion was stopped. More than two million people will lose their jobs if the ban on high-rise construction prevails.

He called on Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari to intervene in the matter.

Former ABAD chairman Mohsin Sheikhani said thousands of people would lose bread and butter due to the ban on high-rise buildings. The construction industry had reached the point of destruction, which would bring a flood of unemployment, he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 17th, 2017.

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