Breathing spaces: KMC plans to rebuild Aziz Bhatti Park lake

In survey of works, administrator promises help for Sobhraj Maternity Home’s new wing.


Saad Hasan August 29, 2012

KARACHI:


He is in charge of the city now, which is why key bureaucrat Mohammad Hussain Syed can throw his weight behind a project to rebuild a lake in a park he once visited as a child.


“I used to come here often,” the city administrator mused during a visit on Tuesday. “It was such a beautiful place.”

There were also lakes in Jheel Park, Hill Park, Scheme 33 and Mai Kolachi. “None of them exist any more,” he noted.

The lake at Aziz Bhatti Park has turned into a pond of filth carpeted by bushes. The Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) has decided to reconstruct it over three acres and add peddle boats to attract families.

A large bird aviary is also planned. “It will be as high 60 feet or maybe more. We will build it around the trees and have exotic birds living in a natural environment,” said the administrator.

Sobhraj Maternity Home

The administrator also visited Sobhraj Maternity Home, the government-run facility where a woman needs only Rs3,000 to pay for a delivery.  The 200-bed hospital has been renovated and the addition of another building has made it possible to now admit over 400 women.

But there are a few snags, such as a proper power connection without which the new wards cannot start running. “Sent me a request for whatever is needed for the hospital,” Syed assured KMC officials. “We will sit together tomorrow to discuss the needs and allocate the funds.”

The new building has been constructed by the Feroza Hasham Trust.

A senior hospital official said they urgently needed an anaesthetist and were looking to offer laparascopic key-hole procedures too.

Zulfiqarabd Oil Terminal

Judging by the pace of work, it seems as if the residents of Clifton would have to wait for a couple more years to see an exit of the oil tankers parked at Dr Ziauddin Hospital and Marine Promenade.

Only sand and rocks and barren land exist as part of the 150-acre site for the new parking lot at Zulfiqarabad oil terminal. The KMC will spend Rs313 million on the terminal and around 1,800 tankers can be parked here once it’s completed.

Flyovers

Cities across the rest of the world are tearing them down, but the folks at the KMC say they will continue to build flyovers despite opposition from city planners. They insist that the concrete elevated corridors remain the best solution to traffic congestion.

“I know this is not the best way to address the problem,” admitted Syed as he oversaw work at the Airport Flyover.  “But we had to do something. The wait in traffic jams is getting longer.”

The KMC is putting Rs1.5 billion into five flyovers that will take the total number of bridges to 49.

Urbanists have said time and again that Karachi’s traffic jams will persist as laying more asphalt and raising more overhead passes is not the solution. Mass transit is the only way to tackle it. The funds being poured into flyovers should go into an city rail link and a network of low-fare public buses.

“We have been hearing about mass transit projects for such a long time yet nothing has happened,” shrugged Syed. “Why should we waste time? We will go ahead with the flyovers.”

Published in The Express Tribune, August 29th, 2012.

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