KARACHI: The city administration said on Friday that all the ‘encroachments’ in the way of the much-delayed Lyari Expressway project had been removed, which resulted in displacement of more than 1,500 families who had been shifted to remote Taiser Town and Mochko.
Officials said the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) had begun taking measures to complete the scheme.
“More than 1,500 families have been displaced, a majority of whom are being compensated and moved to the colony of the Lyari Expressway Resettlement Project (LERP) in Taiser Town and Mochko,” said a senior official of the city administration.
The officials, however, did not give details about those minority families who had not yet got such benefits, most importantly a home.
“There is good news for Karachiites that the incomplete Lyari Expressway project, which started 17 years ago is soon going to have its abandoned north-bound track functional in entirety,” said Asif Jameel, deputy commissioner of Karachi West district.
1,500 families displaced, shifted to remote Taiser Town and Mochko
The much-hyped project had begun in 2002 during military ruler Gen Pervez Musharraf’s regime, but it remained incomplete for years because of issues relating to vacating native populations residing in the areas en route the flyover for decades.
The officials said that one portion of the track, from Sir Shah Suleman Interchange to Sohrab Goth, was functional, but “commuters are unable to get the maximum relief due to encroachment along the track in Central and West districts”.
They said the ‘encroachment’ in Central district had been removed last year, but a 1.5km-long track in West was fully encroached, which had been hindering operationalisation of the 16.5km-long north-bound track.
“Good news is that the fully encroached span of 1.5km in West has ultimately been cleared and handed over to the National Highway Authority (NHA) and FWO to commence their work,” said Mr Jameel.
Elaborating, he said the encroachment in about 1.2km area had been cleared and given to the NHA and FWO on March 25. The remaining 300-metre area was handed over to the two organisations this week.
According to the officials, the FWO would resume work to plug the expressway’s missing links.
“Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah was eager and interested in seeing this track functional; so, the complete removal of encroachment along the belt in West is result of the patronage by the superior authorities,” said a senior official.
The city administration said the FWO had been asked to complete the project as soon as possible.
“Such a project of national importance had been launched in 2002. Its south-bound track – from Sohrab Goth to Mauripur – had long been completed and is being used by motorists, but the work on the north-bound part was halted for years because of encroachment on the area of about 2.2 kilometres,” said a senior official of the city administration.
“This is an important project aimed at reducing traffic jams in the city,” another official claimed.
However, there were big question marks over the issues arising out of massive displacement, conceded an official.
A large number of people who were displaced lost their jobs, sources of livelihood and better education for their children. Many widows and orphans could not get possession of the plots they have been compensated with, and certain reports show the resettlement project became a scam itself. It is learnt that the cost of the resettlement scheme has already increased manifold because of the halt.
Published in Dawn, June 17th, 2017