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Urban hub project finally comes alive in Bajaur

June 28, 2012


PESHAWAR, June 27: Work on developing an urban hub in Khar, Bajaur Agency, will begin on Saturday under a foreign funded development initiative that aims at achieving social transformation in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas through urbanisation.A loya jirga (grand council of elders) is scheduled to take place at Khar, the Agency headquarters, on June 30, 2012, to launch the Fata Urban Centre Project (FUCP), officials told Dawn on Wednesday.

“A Khar municipality area spread over 2.5 square kilometres will be transformed into an urban hub, involving improved municipal services,” Omar Khan, project director, Tribal Areas Rural to Urban Centres Conversion Initiative (TARUCCI), told Dawn on Wednesday.

The estimated cost of setting up Khar urban hub is $7 million that would be provided by the Multi-Donor Trust Fund (MDTF). The fund was established in 2010 to support reconstruction, reforms, rehabilitation, and other similar initiatives in Fata, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Balochistan for restoring peace and promoting sustainable development.

The Saturday’s jirga, said Mr Khan, would also set in motion a public consultation process that aims to involve local community and stakeholders, including teachers, transporters, private businessmen, laborers, sportsmen and others to raise suggestions for developing municipal services.

“The FUCP would be carried out hand-in-hand with the local community and stakeholders because the project aims at achieving social transformation in Fata,” said the official, adding “it is about effecting social and behavioral change in the tribal areas side by side improving infrastructure and municipal services.”

Khar’s urban hub would be established in a three year time under the FUCP which, according to officials, is a pilot project. The successful implementation of FUCP, said Mr Khan, would provide a launching pad for carrying out TARUCCI, a major development initiative that Fata Secretariat, Peshawar, has planned for the tribal areas.

“Fata’s ADP has been oriented towards social transformation through urbanization under TARUCCI,” said Mr Khan.

Some 14 urban centers would be set up under TARUCCI in seven Fata agencies and three Frontier Regions. It was conceived more than two years ago and was dully reflected in Fata’s annual development programme (ADP) for the last two consecutive financial years.

The total estimated cost of TARUCCI had been calculated at over Rs32 billion at the time of its conception. However, the Secretariat will require far more funds to establish the 14 urban centres, including one each at Khar (Bajaur Agency), Ghalanai (Mohmand Agency), Landikotal (Khyber Agency), Ghiljo and Kalaya (Orakzai Agency), Parachinar and Sadda (Kurram Agency), Wana and Sarwakai (South Waziristan Agency), Miranshah and Mir Ali (North Waziristan), Darra Adamkhel (F.R. Kohat), Darra Zinda (F.R. Dera Ismail Khan), and Jandola (F.R. Tank).

“The implementation of TARUCCI has largely been hindered, in the past, due to the law and order situation in Fata,” said its director, adding “right now Bajaur Agency offers the best security environment in the tribal areas, making it possible for us to start the work, improving municipal services at Khar.”

In the second phase, TARUCCI could be launched at Parachinar, Kurram Agency, said its director.

Khar’s urban hub, said the official, would get about 570 solar powered street lights, utilizing the area’s natural potential to help local businessmen run their business late into evening.

He said the requirement for installing the solar power street lights had come from local traders during the course of initial consultations.

A series of public consultations, seminars, and meetings has been planned to involve tribesmen for determining their needs that they would like to be met under the pilot project, said the official.

Mr Khan said that existing municipal services in Khar’s target area, if required, would be improved and new facilities would be established in an effort to trigger economic growth driven by market forces. “People of the area would determine what they need,” said the official.

The municipal services to be upgraded or developed afresh under the FUCP include: construction of roads, drinking water supply, sewage system, solid waste disposal system, fire brigade services, construction of streets and pavements, improvement of existing education and health facilities in the target area, improvement of livestock services, and local trade center.

According to the officials, the TARUCCI management has hired a private consultant for preparing the master plan for Khar’s urban centre in September 2012 following which physical execution of the project would begin.

“An engineering firm would also be hired to prepare the designs of the engineering works in a six months time after which it would also be involved in monitoring the quality of works to be carried out under the FUCP,” said Mr Khan.

Geographic information system (GIS), said another official, would also be used to monitor FUCP’s implementation, ensuring timely completion of the project.