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Underpass, not flyover, to be built near Mehran Hotel
01-02-2014, 01:25 PM
Post: #1
Underpass, not flyover, to be built near Mehran Hotel
Underpass, not flyover, to be built near Mehran Hotel

KARACHI: Bowing to the interests of a couple of influential households in the vicinity, the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation, for the umpteenth time, shelved its plan to construct a flyover at the Mehran Hotel traffic intersection on Sharea Faisal and decided to construct an underpass there, it emerged on Sunday.

Sources said that the construction work for the underpass was expected to restrict the flow of traffic on Sharea Faisal and completely stop the vehicular movement on Dr Daudpota Road that connects the Cantonment Railway Station with downtown Saddar for at least four months.

The 388-metre-long underpass, the Madar-i-Jamhooriat Nusrat Bhutto Underpass, is being funded by the Sindh government at a cost of over Rs458 million. The height would be six metres and the completion period as mentioned in a KMC working paper is eight months.

The latest decision was taken in a high-level meeting between the chief of the civic agency and a senior military official a couple of weeks ago.

The sources said that the KMC had been changing its plans from a flyover to the underpass then to flyover and then again to the underpass to please one influential household located at one end of the proposed project at one time and now to please another influential who had recently shifted there and residing at the other end of the project.

The working paper of the project says: “The construction of the underpass would be taken up in phases and sensitive underground utilities running across and along the project alignment which include water, sewerage, electric, gas, telecommunication, optical fibre cables of various utility agencies and Defcom (defence communication) optical fibre network which need to be shifted and relocated by the concerned utility agency upon payment of utility shifting by the KMC before taking up the construction of the underpass.”

Prior to the decision to construct an underpass instead of a flyover, KMC Administrator Rauf Farooqui had said that the construction cost for an underpass or a flyover was remained almost same with around 10 per cent increase or decrease factor since the underpass construction slightly cost more. But the real challenge for constructing an underpass was relocation of underground lines of utility services, he added.

He said that traffic would continue to ply on these roads during the construction of a flyover, but in case of the underpass one traffic artery — Dr Daudpota Road — might have closed down for the entire construction period and the traffic movement would remain affected on Sharea Faisal.

The sources said that the KMC a few years back had initially planned a flyover there, but because of the old residence of a top politician it shelved the plan and decided to construct an underpass. The said politician did not live there anymore and was constructing a commercial high-rise on the plot

However, after sometime the KMC decided to construct a flyover as per its original plan. But when the KMC was about to start the construction work of the flyover, another objection came this time from a powerful uniformed official, who after leaving his earlier official residence in the Bath Island area was now living in a house along Dr Daudpota Road close to his heavily guarded office along Sharea Faisal, the sources added.

The sources said that the flyover, if constructed, would expose his residence to vehicles and commuters and, therefore, he raised his concerns.

They said that the decision to construct the underpass was taken in principle in a meeting between the commander of corps V and the KMC chief a couple of weeks ago in which the former expressed his concern to the KMC administrator. However, a formal no-objection certificate had not yet been issued by the Corps V Headquarters and as soon as it was issued the work on the underpass would commence. The KMC has even sent a reminder requesting for the early issuance of the NOC so that the work could be started soon, the sources added.

The sources said that these security concerns could have been addressed by installing the iron / steel sheets along the side of the flyover — as had been done in many other flyovers to block the view of the compound or by raising its boundary walls — rather than forcing the road users to undergo this otherwise easily avoidable trouble. Dawn tried repeatedly to contact KMC chief Farooqui to get his version as to why he had to change his earlier people-friendly decision of the construction of a flyover to the underpass, but he could not be approached.
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