China Pakistan Economic Corridor, a multi-billion dollar project, is set to bring investment in Karachi, which can be assessed from what is being invested on road infrastructure of the motorway project.
According to a World Group’s Study “Transforming Karachi into Livable and Competitive City” published recently, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) may influence the future development of the city.
It can be gauged that the investment on road infrastructure between Karachi to Lahore – that will be a 1,100-kilometer freeway or motorway and a major section of Peshawar-Karachi Motorway (PKM) – is worth approximately US$11 billion.
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According to the reports, other motorway projects (Karachi to Sukkur) are now considered a major component of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor and will cost approximately $6.6 billion, with the bulk of financing to be distributed by various Chinese state-owned banks. The Sukkur to Multan and Multan to Lahore is likely to be completed this year with local and foreign financing.
This presents an opportunity for local and international companies to invest in the megacity with a population of over 20 million. It is because the motorway will provide an avenue of investments and businesses for local and foreign investors and businessmen.
The study highlighted the expected impact of CPEC on three key areas.
Trade & Services
There will be an increase in economic volume, which will have an impact on the trade and service sectors, the stock exchange, the price of commodities, land development, and other activities.
Real Estate, Construction, & Housing
The CPEC could drive real estate and housing as well as communication, transport, and construction industries.
Land Use & Connectivity
While it is envisaged that economic activity would spread along with CPEC, the southern bypass could see additional freight transport activities, and the northern bypass and other major arteries may expect increased traffic to serve housing and commercial uses.
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The consolidation of accurate city data will be the first step toward effective long-term integrated planning. Mega cities can shape more livable urban environments by planning and anticipating for the long term. Land-use and spatial planning can safeguard space for the longer term and protect the environment while responding to market demand and space needs for businesses, housing, and amenities. To reap dividends, the following are needed: better land administration; transparent development and real estate indicators, transactions, and processes; and links to the tax system.
Regional planning is required to reap benefits from an economic corridor. Large-scale growth is expected from the CPEC. A regional plan is needed to reap the benefits associated with such growth—and for equitable, inclusive, and efficient growth—while safeguarding environmental and cultural assets.
The planned implementation of a bus rapid transit (BRT) system could make areas in Karachi more accessible. This plans must translate to implementable, transparent policies that can respond to city needs and private sector development in the shorter term.
Various land-owning agencies at different levels will need to work closely to meet the needs of the city in a coordinated and efficient way. Second, given that the public sector controls more than 90 percent of the land in Karachi Division, it is even more critical that it takes the lead in ensuring quality development for economic, social, and environmental needs.
Less than 5 percent of the city’s land is controlled by private entities. There are opportunities to explore appropriate, transparent mechanisms for land disposal and allocation so that land resources can better respond to demand and private-sector needs.
Plans to improve resilience to external shocks and climate change should be incorporated into urban planning. The recent heat wave in 2015 and the city’s susceptibility to floods need to be addressed. Initiatives such as “greening” the city’s public spaces could not only help reduce heat islands and reduce energy consumption but also provide breathing spaces for an increasingly dense city.