KARACHI: The Empress Market and its surrounding areas in Saddar will be turned into a pedestrian zone where a tram service would be introduced, it emerged on Monday.

An ambitious plan in this regard also suggests restoration of the historic buildings in the city centre showcasing Karachi’s heritage. A museum would also be set up to enable the visitors to enjoy the rich culture of the city.

This was stated by Karachi Commissioner Shoaib Siddiqui while presiding over a meeting of the steering committee of the Saddar traffic improvement scheme recently.

He said that the PC-I of the scheme had been prepared and was being sent to the provincial planning and development department.

He said the project would be implemented in phases.

He said tpublic transport vehicles — buses, minibuses and coaches — of 46 routes entered the Saddar area. Of them, 35 routes passed through Saddar and 11 routes ended there.

Under the plan, the public transport would use only two thoroughfares — Mansfield Street and Dr Daudpota Road — to pass through Saddar, while buses, minibuses etc would not run on Preedy Street, Shahrah-i-Iraq, Mir Karam Ali Road and Raja Ghazanfar Ali Khan Road.

Two routes of trams —Green Line and Red Line — would be introduced between Preedy Street Extension and Regal Chowk to cater to the needs of the commuters visiting Saddar.

Mansfield Street would be used by the public transport coming from M.A. Jinnah Road which after passing through the Preedy Street and Shahrah-i-Iraq would go to Lucky Star, while Dr Daudpota Road would be used by the public transport coming from Sharea Faisal and Lucky Star to go towards M. A. Jinnah Road after passing through Shahrah-i-Iraq and Preedy Street.

The trams on the Green Line route would start from the Tram Depot on Preedy Street extension, to be located near the Parking Plaza, would run on the Preedy Street up to Aga Khan Road and then turn towards Bambino Cinema from where it would turn on Saghir Shaheed Road then turn to Abdullah Haroon Road returning to Preedy Street after which it would turn right and circling around at Regal Chowk would return by Sharah-i-Iraq to Zaibunnisa Street to come to Preedy Street. Then it would turn on to Raja Ghazanfar Ali Khan Road to come to Shahrah-i-Iraq and then turning on Mir Karam Ali Khan Road it would return to the depot after passing through Preedy Street.

The trams on the Red Line starting from the depot would run on Preedy Street, Abdullah Haroon Road, Zaibunnisa Street, Raja Ghazanfar Ali Khan Road, Lucky Star, Mir Karam Ali Khan Road and Preedy Street and terminate at the depot.

According to the project document, the removal of public transport from Saddar would reduce pollution, congestion, delays, traffic jams and would provide more freedom of movement to pedestrians if the footpaths are widened. It said that pedestrians could face inconvenience in reaching some core area of Saddar and the road spaces without public transport would encourage encroachments. Travel time of commuters would increase, traffic load on M. A. Jinnah Road, Rafiqui Shaheed Road, etc, would increase and travel distance for some vehicles travelling between M. A. Jinnah Road and Cantt Station would increase.

According to the plan, the historic Empress Market and other buildings in the vicinity would be repaired and rehabilitated and while the encroachments are to be removed newly designed stalls would be set up in the pedestrian zone. A museum would also be set up in which pictures depicting history and heritage of the city would be on display. Karachi Metropolitan Corporation’s senior director for transport and communication Mohammad Ather, who attended the meeting, said that a survey was being conducted in the area and encroachments were being removed while roads would also be widened at different places.

Published in Dawn, November 4th, 2014