The incumbent management of the capital’s civic agency continues to come up with novel ideas for ‘revenue-generating projects,’ despite the debatable success of their ventures in the recent past.
The plan to construct two multi-storey buildings, an auto enclave in Sector I-12 and an office complex in Blue Area, has been floated by the incumbent chairman of the Capital Development Authority (CDA)after trumping several other projects which insiders term more ‘cost-beneficial’.
“Both projects are in the preliminary stages,” said an official of the authority, who attended two consecutive meetings held during the ongoing week at the authority’s headquarters. Undoubtedly, the incumbent management of the authority headed by Nadeem Hassan Asif, a bureaucrat who formerly served in the Punjab at key positions, wants to shore up revenue but is unsure of how to go about it.
“The city managers’ method of working exposes their naivety and confusion. Ever since he has assumed office, every month, the chairman suggests an idea and work is started on it, but it’s replaced another idea later on,” said a board member wishing not to be named. Citing this ever-changing attitude of the incumbent chairman, the member said not even a single project had been initiated since the chairman assumed office over four months ago.
The auto enclave project envisages the construction of a building on 12 acres in Sector I-12. The proposed building will house car showrooms, workshops and spare parts shops. The office enclave will be constructed at an area of eight acres. The building will be located opposite the newly-launched Centaurus Mall in Blue Area and Sector F-8’s cross-section. This building will house offices of private national and multinational companies.
Both the buildings will be rented out and the authority will earn revenue every month, according to the city managers’ plan. Funding required to construct both the buildings is linked with the launch of municipal bonds by CDA, an idea first floated in 2009 by city managers at the time.
During the last board meeting, it was decided that an office enclave would help put an end to the practice of using residential units for commercial purposes across Islamabad. Owners of businesses in residential areas will be asked to shift to the complex.
“Currently, around 2 million square feet area in residential sectors is under commercial use in violation of land use laws. After establishing the office complex, CDA will ask people to shift their businesses from residential areas to a dedicated building,” said an official of the planning wing.
However, reality is somewhat different. Several floors of multi-storey commercial buildings in Blue Area, including Beverly Centre, the stock exchange building, Shaheed-e-Millat secretariat and the Statelife building are still vacant.
“People do not establish commercial offices in residential areas because of lack of commercial area in the city. They do it to save money,” said Masrur Abbasi, chief executive of a real estate firm, who also runs his office from a house in Sector F-8.
CDA Spokesperson Asim Khichi said CDA was considering undertaking both the projects. “We are optimistic about the success of these projects,” Khichi stated, adding that he could not comment further as the projects were in the preliminary stages.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 26th, 2013.
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