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ISLAMABAD: The Sindh government has approved a resettlement plan for the construction of the Karachi Bus Rapid Transit (KBRT) project which is estimated to cost Rs227 million, it is learnt.

Through a letter, the project director of the Transport and Mass Transit Department has informed the Asian Development Bank (ADB) that the Sindh Mass Transit Authority has endorsed the draft resettlement plan on the recommendations of the gender, social development, public participation and resettlement expert of the project implementation unit.

The KBRT is a transport system being designed to respond to the increasing need in Karachi for reliable and safe public transport. It’s being undertaken by the recently formed Sindh Mass Transit Authority (SMTA) in collaboration with the ADB.

About 493 vendors will relocate their stalls and carts because of the project that will cost Rs227m

The construction on the KBRT ‘Red Line’ is intended to start in the first quarter of 2019. The construction process will cause some negative impacts to those impinging and using the right of way (ROW) and some temporary access disturbances to the surrounding populations for which mitigation measures have been provided in the project’s Environment Impact Assessment report.

The KBRT ‘Red Line’ route has been determined to be the most viable option while taking into consideration the project objectives and potential resettlement impacts. The construction works will be contained within the ROW, especially in the congested residential and commercial areas.

The resettlement impacts on vendors located within the ROW have been identified and will be mitigated through the implementation of an updated rehabilitation plan. The project will provide resettlement and rehabilitation assistance to the displaced people to enable them to continue their business activities at the new pedestrian footbridges to be built at appropriate locations for accessing the BRT bus stations, with provision of male and female public toilets.

According to the letter, a survey of 129 affected vendors has been conducted, including the nine who did not want to take part in the exercise. Out of the counted displaced persons, only 129 with temporary structures were considered to be displaced persons. Previously vendors with mobile structures were not considered as displaced persons. A more in-depth socioeconomic survey with 30 of the 129 displaced persons was also conducted.

Along the BRT corridor, the number of DPs is currently estimated at 925, including 293 owners of small legal and formal shops losing shop structure extensions, 80 public and private organisations that need to shift their minor structures and equipment within the premises, 493 informal micro business vending owners and 59 salaried employees of the vending micro enterprises losing their regular vending location. None of the affected structures are used for residential purposes and none of the displaced persons will be physically displaced from housing.

Currently, it is expected that the project will displace informal vendors and their employees from their locations of livelihood; displace plant nurseries owners and their workers from their business locations; require moving and demolition of minor parts of semi-permanent and permanent public, commercial and community structures that are impinging on the ROW; and cause relocation of public utilities like electricity towers and transmission lines, telecommunication poles and lines, optical fibre cable, gas pipelines, water supply transmission lines and sewerage lines.

The survey was undertaken to collect data on the 364 micro enterprise vendors with moveable structures such as stalls with wheels or carts, who mostly do business in larger vending markets.

All 493 (129 plus 364) vendors identified during three surveys will need to relocate their stalls and carts. The identified displaced vendors run their businesses within the ROW which is public land. None of them have legal permissions or licences. The vendors have set up temporary or mobile structures and in some cases a combination of both to operate their businesses.

Different alternatives were considered and the construction of depots was proposed on government-owned lands, which were originally the land of defunct urban bus depots owned by the Karachi Road Transport Corporation (KRTC). The proposed land for Malir Halt bus depot and Gulistan-i-Jauhar bus depot are owned by the Sindh government and, therefore, will not result in any physical or economic displacement.

The access road to Malir Halt depot proposed on the land owned by the Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited would either be leased or rented. The land for the depots is currently used by the Pakistan Rangers who have established camps on these plots, and need to be relocated to other government-owned land. The project will provide funds for the relocation and reconstruction of the Rangers camps at some alternative government-owned land.

Published in Dawn, July 2nd, 2018