‘Poor in the city always neglected’

KARACHI: Renowned architect, researcher and urban planner Arif Hasan has listed infrastructure and land issues as some of the major problems of Karachi.

Mr Hasan shared his experiences in the metropolis and highlighted its housing and planning problems in his lecture, Karachi: My Experiences and Encounters, held at Sindh Madressatul Islam University (SMIU) on Tuesday.

He said that the poor in the city had always been neglected. He said he came to realise that no housing scheme was fruitful or of any benefit unless its policy was pro-poor.

Mr Hasan said that a huge amount of extra money was always charged unjustly on development programmes in Pakistan. Sharing an example, he said that in the Korangi Waste Management Programme, the World Bank charged four to five times more money than the actual cost.

He said that when his assistant did the costing of the project, it was $28 million, whereas the World Bank had calculated it to be $100m. And when they approached the governor at that time, the loan from the World Bank was eventually cancelled, he said.

He said people were looted in this way in many housing projects, and due to the huge amount that was spent on them, such projects always became costly for the people, and that the government’s policies were neither pro-poor in the past nor were they now, as Karachi, along with the entire country, was still facing infrastructure problems.

Mr Hasan also reflected on how he came to Karachi at the age of 4 from India in 1947 and spent his childhood playing with the children of servants, sanitation workers, etc. He said his interactions and encounters with the poor, whom he also helped with their housing problems, made him realise that helping people was also the duty of an architect, not just making beautiful architecture and buildings.

Published in Dawn, June 14th, 2023