KARACHI: The recently discovered tourist attraction by the sea, the Pakistan Deep Water Container Port or China Port, which had been receiving many visitors from all over the city after the publication of its photographs in local newspapers, was on Thursday officially closed for the public.
Still months away from being fully operational for the purpose of trade, the area had fast been turning into a sightseeing spot from the time that it was discovered by the citizens of Karachi earlier last month.
But everyone who wanted to go there and marvel at the long tetrapod breakwater pathway with the large bodies of water on either side, and tall cranes and city skyline also visible has been barred from doing so.
KPT says too many people visiting the area was creating a security hazard
A makeshift blockade of concrete barriers, wooden planks, old bushes, etc prevents all vehicles from turning towards the sandy area to get on the path from the Marine Promenade.
And up on the incline there is a police van with men signalling everyone to go back and turn away.
Asked why the area was closed for the public now, an ill-tempered policeman said too many people were frequenting the place, raising chances of their becoming ‘squatters’, who may even take over the place.
“First you see the public, then you see hawkers and vendors, then horse and camel owners and dune buggy drivers. Some may just take over the place and call it their own like the qabza mafia. We can’t let you do that,” he shouted.
“We tried so hard to go but the policemen are not allowing it. They told us that that they have had to block the way after three to four people drowned in the water which also led to imposition of Section 144 here,” a picnicker said.
“We haven’t heard of anyone drowning though. The policeman is probably only trying to scare us,” he added.
“I was told that they have only closed the area for a few hours while the Chinese are surveying the area,” said another woman picnicker.
“I was told that they have to prevent people from going any further because they climb the tower up there” and put their own safety at risk, said a younger person who was there with several others on their motorbikes.
Meanwhile, when Dawn contacted the Karachi Port Trust (KPT) to understand the reason for the blockade, it was explained that tourists and visitors to the area were in the habit of taking photographs which was bringing up security issues.
“The place is not that far away from sensitive locations such as the Naval Dockyard, the Naval Academy PNS Rahbar, PNS Himalaya, etc. Therefore, photography there can be problematic, requiring initial clearance from the Directorate for Naval Intelligence and the Ministry of Maritime Affairs in Islamabad,” he said.
Published in Dawn, August 3rd, 2018