Muhammad Bilal Awan |
Due to ever increasing population growth, Pakistan is facing, Housing shortage problem is of sever intensity and is complex as it can be. According to a report by World Bank (Pakistan Housing Finance Project – March 2017), the estimated housing shortage in Pakistan is up to 10 million units and the deficit continues to grow, particularly in the urban areas.
It is a reality that due to unequal distribution of resources and locking up of the wealth in few hands only, there are millions in this country who cannot have a residence of their own. In our neighboring country India, recently a far more ambitious plan of constructing 20 million houses have been initiated which is expected to complete within a timeframe of 8-10 years as claimed by their government.
In the list of revolutionary manifestos presented before elections by current ruling party, PTI, building 5 million houses across the country in a tenure of 5 years only.
Housing provision for the masses, especially for the middle and lower class which have an average income of Rs 10 thousand to 25 thousand per month, and cannot afford a roof over their head, is not novel for this nation as almost every political party not only sold these dreams to score a victory in elections but also started their own projects with various names, from time to time.
Despite of such claims in past, the statistics from World Bank report shows that where the housing-finance-to-GDP ratio in the developed world is 50%, in Pakistan it is just 1%, far more-lower than India, which has 7%. Apathy from the governments in past concerning this issue only deteriorated the situation. The private housing societies– which unceasingly feasted on the vast and superlative state-owned agricultural lands– are indulged in catering to the demands of elite class only with a prime luxury filled lifestyle.
In the list of revolutionary manifestos presented before elections by current ruling party, PTI, building 5 million houses across the country in a tenure of 5 years only, received somewhat a great spotlight from everyone in general public to even politicians (and now judiciary as well).
Defiant to the bashing from critics, and soon after assuming the office, the Prime Minister, Imran Khan, directed to finalize the recommendations for the comprehensive action plan to commence this project and just recently the details have been revealed by the Premier himself as he initiated the mega project. However, this decision is taken timely and was much welcomed by the public.
The existing infrastructure of a metro in big cities of Pakistan becomes a highly desirable option for such model as discussed above.
Also, the state-owned thousands of acres unused land– which rapacious land mafias exploited for ages, but with the recent intense operations to recover it and statements made by the government officials, indicates in the directions, that for the mega housing project–will also be utilized along with the formation of new towns.
The government have a huge fervor reflected from its efforts but needs to carefully plan the even the nitty-gritty of this extensive sheer sized project, as in the past, such housing projects and schemes eventually shaped more problems rather than eliminating them. To cope up with any such situation, the government can take into account the Singapore and Hong-Kong models of sustainable urban development.
As the inhabiting new towns can be a challenge, these models focus on constructing mass housing units within close range to mass transit systems such as tube, metro & subway stations. As these factors not only boost land development but act as an urban regeneration catalyst. The existing infrastructure of a metro in big cities of Pakistan becomes a highly desirable option for such model as discussed above.
The CPEC corridor which extends an exclusive route from Gwadar to North, can be included and experimented with in such model for a better sustainability and will also be of much interest to international developers thus can be a source of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) as well.
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Nonetheless, the said project will not only resolve the housing shortage issue but also will bring a good lift to the strangling economy of the country as it will provide employment opportunities to an illiterate labor and university graduated engineer as well. Along with mega industries like steel & cement, which are directly involved in the construction industry, many other small and medium-sized enterprises will also have a good volume to harvest from, and thus the gear of economy will be moving swiftly.
Muhammad Bilal Awan is a business developer and a visiting lecturer. He likes to write about social issues and international relations. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.