To Karachi, with love: The road most travelled gets a facelift

The Eduljee Dinshaw Road will now have colonial details such as cobblestones, wrought-iron lamp posts

KARACHI: There is a road named after one of the most influential men of the Parsi community - Seth Eduljee Dinshaw. It stretches from the Karachi Port Trust building to the Old Customs House and has been there since pre-Partition.

For years, this road has been ignored and it seems like the city and government are finally taking ownership in their hands. The Karachi Port Trust, Customs office of Karachi and the Sindh government have taken an initiative to restore the road to its former glory by working on the Eduljee Dinshaw Road Project.

"Karachi has a rich heritage where it had beautiful buildings and roads. This project will revive the city," said Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad at the project's inauguration ceremony on Tuesday. "We will also restore Empress Market and its surrounding areas. Karachi is a city not just of people who speak different languages but also those who practise different religions. This is a unique project which will revive Karachi."

Karachi's commissioner Shoaib Siddiqui, chief collector Dr Nazim Saleem and the chief architects of the project - Danish Zuby and Shahid Abdulla were also present at the event.

Talking to The Express Tribune about the design they were working on, Abdulla said that the design had to belong to the building so they were using a lot of colonial details, including cobblestones, wrought-iron lamp posts and marine sculptural elements such as chains and anchors.

"It will have a fair amount of colonial architectural elements mixed with contemporary elements," he said. "We will also think about having the buildings and roads to be solar lit and use the LEDs," said Abdulla. He added that the repaving the road with cobblestones will slow down the traffic flow during the day.

According to Abdulla, this was being done for the general public and neighbourhood. "People can have picnics here," he said. "Local vendors can come and utilise this space well. There will also be proper security as CCTV cameras will be installed to ensure that there is no rowdiness."

For Danial Shaukat, the project in-charge working with Danish Zuby, the project is all about the neighbourhood and its people. Zuby, who is working hand-in-hand with Abdulla, said that their main purpose was to create good urban spaces. "We don't have enough places in this city where people can go and unwind," he said. "It is important to have such places in the city. We want to bridge the gap between different classes. We want it to be open for everyone." He added that they were going to use benches that would last a long time along with other sustainable materials.

Zuby claimed that this project was an exercise in urban design. "We were fortunate enough to have two of the most beautiful heritage sites in the city as a backdrop," he said. "We will plant trees, install lamp posts and benches to enhance the beauty and ambiance of the area."

The real brains behind the project, SM Tariq, a Customs collector, said that he had been travelling down this road for more than 20 years and it seemed to be getting worse day by day. "The traffic, transport mafia and hawkers congest the area so much that it shadows everything," he said. "I wanted to know how it could be brought back to what it was." He added that there were these two architectural masterpieces [KPT and Customs building] but nobody came to see them so we thought of revamping the road with lamp posts and benches to give it a vintage feel.

"Everyone needs to see and enjoy Karachi's old architecture because it is the soul of Karachi," said actress Sarwat Gilani.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 13th, 2014.


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