Fate of 194 dangerous buildings in Karachi still undecided

Fate of 194 dangerous buildings in Karachi still undecided

KARACHI: Despite passage of more than five years, Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) authorities are still unable to vacate 194 old buildings that were declared dangerous in 2011 by Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA).

In 2011, when an old building collapsed in Lyari town Karachi the then City District Government (KCDG) announced to vacate the 194 dangerous buildings in the city and to relocate their residents to an apartment block in Scheme 33.

The SBCA's official record reveals that out of the total 194 dangerous buildings, 129 buildings are in Saddar town and its surrounding areas alone while the remaining are in Lyari and Malir, and only few are in Korangi, Liaquatabad, Keamari and Nazimabad towns.

In Saddar town, the Old Town Quarters, Wadhomal Odharam Quarters, Market Quarter and Ranchore Line are the hubs of such dangerous buildings and majority of them are thickly populated. Usually, the officials of the building control authority inspect these buildings on alternate years and declare them dangerous but even then the residents are allowed to live there.

According to an official of SBCA, the officials after inspections put a small board on such buildings stating that the building is being declared dangerous and people may live on their own risk while passerby should walk 25 meters away from the buildings as they could collapse any time.

In last few years, the official list of these deteriorating buildings comprises on almost same buildings in the city but no government has so far taken any practical step. Many of these buildings deteriorated over the years have also been declared as heritage buildings, yet people chose to live there.

In August 2009, five-storey Khadija Manzil collapsed in Khajoor Bazaar near Lea Market in Methadar area that killed several people. Right after the incident, the government announced to launch a grand operation against all those who were living in such buildings which were officially declared dangerous buildings, but nothing happened practically.

It has been found that more than 500 families are living in different old buildings in the same area including Zulfiqar House and Taqi Building. Though many people left their houses due to this fear, they returned within a month and started residing again in such buildings.

Suleman Kachhi is one of them. His father got a home in Taqi Building, in the next street to the five-storey building that collapsed in 2009. He and his two brothers have around a dozen children and many of them are also married still live here. He said moving to another place with such large number of people is almost impossible for him.

He knows that the building control authority has declared their building dangerous, but he said it's not important as government did nothing after declaring buildings dangerous. "The government must provide us alternative space where we can live because we don't have any other option," said another resident, Ismail.