LAHORE: Shortage of town planners and allied vacant posts in Punjab and other provinces of the country is not only hampering the routine business of the development authorities, spatial planning wings of the metropolitan, municipal corporation and town committees but also depriving the country of professionals who prefer to move abroad.

Many professionals working in the public and private sectors have either left or are planning to proceed abroad.

“The situation is worsening as the government has failed to address the issue and the situation is causing shortage of town planners in various departments,” claims an official source in the Lahore Development Authority (LDA).

A survey carried out by the Young Town Planners Association Pakistan (YTPAP) reveals that Punjab tops in shortage of town planners with 86 vacant seats. These are in the Local Government & Community Development Department, 20 in the LDA, 34 in Gujranwala, Rawalpindi, Multan, Faisalabad and Fort Munro development authorities.

“More than 30 seats are vacant in the capital, Gilgit and Skardu development authorities. Recruitment couldn’t be made in various departments of Bahawalpur, Sargodha, DG Khan, Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Khairpur, Quetta, Peshawar and Azad Jammu & Kashmir,” says the source.

He says the main reasons behind shortage is non-recruitment in the public and private sectors, and movement of these professional to developed countries either for work or higher education.

“In the LDA alone, ten town planners recently resigned and left abroad for better future,” he says. The official claims that due to shortage, the government is also facing problems in the execution of the Naya Pakistan Housing Project as well as master planning of the cities. “The government hardly seems bothered about filling the vacant seats. At present, many vacant seats are being looked after by the diploma holders (building inspectors), engineers, non-planners, enforcers and the general cadre officials,” Mohsin Ali, the association president, told Dawn.

He said according to the Pakistan Council of Architects and Town Planners, due to vacant positions, as many as 700 town planners in the country are planning to move abroad or are forced to work with local private consultants, developers and builders against lower posts.

“We demand that the governments immediately fill the vacant seats of town planners in the development authorities, local governments, metropolitan & municipal corporations, town committees and other departments concerned,” he demanded.

Published in Dawn, October 10th, 2019