KARACHI: The World Bank has approved Karachi Old Area Rehabilitation Project of $80 million to restore the old city areas right from Pakistan Chowk to Empress Market.

This was disclosed in a meeting held between Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah and a nine-member World Bank delegation led by its senior director for social, urban and rural development Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez.

The World Bank senior director said the bank had approved in principle to work with the Sindh government to launch the Karachi Old Area Rehabilitation project. “This is the good news I have come here to give you,” he said.

The chief minister appreciated that the World Bank endorsed the project, as “this is not only a good news for me but also for the people of my city of Karachi.”

Mr Shah said that Empress Market was the heart of Karachi. With its restoration and rehabilitation, the entire city would look beautiful. The area right from Pakistan Chowk to Empress Market has historical buildings, parks and streets. The restoration of the area, including drainage, roads, streets, buildings, utilities, parks and other concerned areas would be uplifted and reconstructed.

Additional chief secretary (Development) Mohammad Waseem said the Sindh government allocated $20 million of its share for the project. The spots to be renovated and reconstructed had already been identified, he said. “We are going to launch the project from December 2016,” he vowed.

The World Bank senior director congratulated the chief minister for getting the project for which he visited the residence of World Bank country director in Islamabad. “These were your efforts and vision that it is being materialized,” he said.

Meanwhile, the delegation met the deputy mayor of Karachi Dr Arshad Vohra at his office and assured him of all possible cooperation for the betterment of municipal facilities in the metropolis. The deputy mayor informed the visitors that provision of basic municipal facilities in each and every part of the city was a big challenge for the civic agencies. For this purpose, he added, technical assistance and cooperation had been sought from various regional and international organisations, which yielded good results. With this cooperation, he said, various short- and long-term projects relating to infrastructure development and for provision of basic necessities in the city were completed.

He expressed the hope that the World Bank offer for cooperation would help in building Karachi as a modern and developed city.

Published in Dawn, November 8th, 2016