KARACHI, Dec 12: The two abandoned landmark projects in the city — the National Indoor Sports Complex (on M. A. Jinnah Road) and Hyatt Regency Hotel (in front of the PIDC) continue to haunt 14 million strong metropolis.
Both the projects attracted attention of the present government which, about three years back, had expressed its determination to vitalize these projects for the benefit of the local and other citizens. However, all its efforts over the years have proved to be an exercise in futility, only owing to the cumbersome procedures and more painfully involvement of vested interests as suggested by press reports.
In the recent months, according to sources close to the project planners, the process of reviving these projects had gone beyond paper work amid changing international scenario and encouraging investment climate. The increasing discrimination in the West against southeast Asian nationals, particularly Pakistanis and Arabs, has ultimately diverted their business interests from the US and Western countries to their homeland or some Asian states whichever they deemed safe for their capital. Such a situation also encouraged the government to utilize the fresh input in reviving feasible projects, like those in question.
In this regard, the sources recalled, the Sindh government had recently issued notification pertaining to a reconstituted committee assigned the task of handling the affairs of the sports complex construction.
The committee is headed by the minister of sports and youth affairs Sindh whereas City Nazim, additional chief secretaries of development and local government, secretary of culture, sports and youth affairs, secretary of works and DCO are its members.
The project has reportedly been redesigned by dissecting it into two ventures — sports complex and commercial complex — with an aim of making a room for investment on a ‘build, operate and transfer’ (BOT) basis. The tentative date of the projects completion has been fixed as April 30, 2007.
The project, at the intersection of M. A. Jinnah Road and Garden Road, had been abandoned soon after commencement of construction work due to change of government in 1977. Later, Governor Muhammadmian Soomro, constituted a task force for the economic revival of urban Sindh and and gave it the responsibility of reviving the sports complex also.
A few years later, the new devolution system was introduced but the local government, emerging from the system, failed to take a decision with regard to the project. It, however, took the decision to utilize the open space within the project site as ‘charged-parking zone’.
When an elected government came to power at the Centre as well as the provinces, the matter was sorted out and another body, the Sports Complex Implementation Committee, headed by the then chief secretary, Mr K. B. Rind, decided to offer the project to interested parties on BOT or self-financing basis under the supervision of the provincial department of culture, tourism, sports and youth affairs.
The project site is spread over an area of more than 17,125 square yards, across Kandawala Building, on M. A. Jinnah Road.
The agreement reached between the committee and the government was reviewed at a high-level meeting presided over by incumbent Chief Secretary Dr Mutawakkil Qazi. The meeting took several decisions, including transfer of the complex to the CDGK free of charge.
According to the proposed plan, the commercial complex of the project would be of 15 floors and its administration block would comprise ground, mezzanine an two lower floors. A hotel is also included to be built somewhere in the same vicinity. All the other floors are meant for residential and office purposes.
In the case of the Hyatt Regency Hotel project, the authorities decided to hand the site over to Privatization Commission after failing to reach a decision on a suitable alternative use for the incomplete structure.
The project, which was originally planned as a franchise hotel, had been initiated during the PPP government in mid-’70s.
After more than two decades now, some headway has been made towards completing the project as a party has come out with plan to turn the building into the ‘national commodity exchange and office complex’.
Last month bidding was held by the Privatization Commission and the successful bidder was Aqeel Karim Dhedhi who offered Rs530 billion for the site.
After approval by a cabinet committee, according to the terms and condition, the firm would deposit 50 per cent of the bid amount on a fixed date and the balance with in the next 60 days.
The Hyatt Regency project is spread over 10,000 square yards and stood at a prime location, i.e. at an intersection housing five star hotels and clubs all along it.