KARACHI: After being in a state of limbo for over a year, authorities finally announced the completion and inauguration of Karachi’s Numaish Chowrangi intersection last month. Due to the extended lockdown, however, construction work has once again been hit with delays despite the government’s decision to allow the resumption of the project.
Per the initial plan, the Numaish Chowrangi intersection at MA Jinnah Road was to be opened for two-way traffic in the last week of March. Later, the opening of the intersection was delayed due to the start of Ramazan but due to the extended lockdown imposed in the city by the Sindh government, construction work remained suspended.
According to the engineers of the Sindh Infrastructure Development Company Limited (SIDCL), the provincial government has permitted the construction industry to resume work on unfinished projects, but the move requires an official governmental permit.
If the Sindh government issues the permit within a week, the development work on Numaish Chowrangi will be completed two to three weeks before Eid-ul-Fitr, after which the intersection will be opened for two-way traffic. To that end, the SIDCL has also written a letter to the Karachi Commissioner, requesting him to direct the district administration to issue a no-objection certificate (NOC) for the resumption of civil works.
Talking to The Express Tribune, an engineer from the SIDCL, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that bituminous carpeting and roofing work had been underway at the Numaish Chowrangi underpass until March 23, after which a lockdown was imposed.
“More than 90 per cent of the work has been completed, so the completion would not take long,” he said.
The lockdown was initially planned to be lifted on April 14 but due to a surge in the number of Covid-2019 cases, it had to be extended to April 30.
The engineer added that even though the federal and provincial governments have allowed construction work to resume, the situation in Karachi seems to be unclear.
“The road has been blocked with containers and checkposts are being set up at major roads in Karachi as police continue to inspect vehicles while demanding permits issued by the government,” he said. “In the case of the unavailability of permits, supply trucks and labourers are stopped and directed to return. Under such circumstances, the development work on the project cannot be restored.”
He added that engineers, technical staff and workers associated with the development works have to be present at the project site, for which government passes are required.
“The carpeting material is produced in the Hub district, which is far away from Karachi. If the police stop trucks carrying this mix, it will dry up. For this reason, the government of Sindh must issue special passes so that development works could be resumed. Based on such passes, the staff and machinery could be brought to the construction site without interruption,” he said.
Bilal Memon, the general manager of SIDCL, said that the roofing work of the underpass is in the final stages while work for roads beneath the Sakhi Hassan Flyover, Five Star Flyover and KDA Chowrangi is also about to finish.
“The SIDCL sent a letter to the city commissioner a few days ago requesting him to issue a NOC permitting the restoration of work for bus rapid transit and other developmental projects,” Memon said. “We have assured the commissioner that we will strictly implement all the standard operating procedures required to contain the spread of the disease.”
He added that many workers have returned to their villages and towns since the imposition of the lockdown; however, since the work is in final stages, a large number of workers are not required anymore.
“The leftover work is technical for which labourers and engineers are available and relevant contractors are also taking care of the maintenance work,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 24th, 2020.
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