KARACHI, June 9: While work on the Shahabuddin market and parking plaza project is going on at a fast pace, the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation seems to have given up on a similar project — a 12-storey parking plaza a few hundreds yards from the new one — as the structure continues to wear a deserted look since its inauguration in 2009, it emerged on Saturday.

Unless the Sindh government declares the Saddar streets a no-parking zone, the new parking plaza will have a fate no different from that of the old one.

Officials said that over 1,600 cars and 600 motorcycles were expected to be parked in the new parking plaza situated near the historical Empress Market, which would be completed in around three years in phases at a total cost of over Rs2.5 billion.

Funds for the project were to be generated through the sale of shops in it.

They said that some floors of the new project would be reserved for shops, some of which would be given to the shopkeepers of Shahabuddin market who had been relocated from the site earlier at subsidised rates, while others would be sold through balloting. The rest of the floors would be reserved for the parking plaza.

The old 12-storey parking plaza of the KMC, formerly called the City District Government Karachi, had the capacity for around 700 vehicles and 500 motorcycles on its eight floors, while it had 160 shops on two floors and 118 offices on other two floors.

The plaza was constructed on a 35,654-square-foot plot at a cost of Rs650 million and had become operational in July 2009.

Sources, however, said that the project had been such a business disaster that its contractor could not keep it and the KMC had to take it back and was now being handled by it.

They said that one of the major factors that led to the failure of the old parking plaza was that the CDGK had planned that it could get declared major roads and streets in Saddar and adjacent localities a no-parking zone, but this could not be done despite making efforts, as it had to be done by the provincial government and was to be implemented by the traffic police.

Though the parking ban and no-parking zones were declared a couple of times, these could not be implemented owing to an indifferent attitude of the traffic police, they added.

The sources said that if the parking ban was not imposed and no-parking zones were not declared and also implemented around the new parking plaza, the project could also meet the same fate.

The new plaza was right in the centre of the Saddar area, while the old one was located a few hundred yards away from markets and the road that connected it with the markets was swamped with vendors, their clients and also incidents of mugging were rampant in the locality.

Besides, the sources said that earlier only one political group had its influence in the area, but now others groups had also managed to make their presence felt and the law and order situation had become more critical and tricky to handle.

It may be recalled that at the time of construction of the old parking plaza the move had been opposed by a former Sindh governor and a PML-N leader Mamnoon Hussain, though for different reasons, but nobody listened and a few years down the line, the project remained a financial disaster.

The old parking plaza was inaugurated by Sindh Governor Ishratul Ibad in 2009 and the foundation stone of the new parking plaza was also laid by him a couple of months back. Hopefully, he had looked into the reasons of the failure of the old parking plaza and enough brainstorming had been done and that he was sure that these reasons had been addressed in the planning of the new plaza and that it would be a financial success.

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