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August 15, 2017

City runs out of space for revellers 


August 15, 2017

Commemorating 70 years of Pakistan’s independence proved to be a tough ask for citizens of Karachi. While the oft-criticised practice of celebratory aerial firing at the stroke of midnight left 11 victims in its wake, the entire day was marred by jammed roads and overcrowded recreational spots that left revellers more frustrated than merry.

For the people of Karachi, options when it comes to recreational spaces are limited at best. All through Monday, though, citizens’ favourite haunts including the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) Museum, Pakistan Navy Maritime Museum, Karachi Zoo, Safari Park and the ever-dependable Sea View posed a test of patience and determination. 

The crowd situation at the PAF and maritime museums reached a point where their managements decided to bar entry to the public. The visitors, who were adamant on gaining entry, waited outside the main entrances, their parked vehicles soon causing traffic jams on Sharea Faisal and Karsaz Road.

The former, accepted by all as the city’s main thoroughfare, was soon packed with vehicles from the Drigh Road intersection all the way up to the erstwhile Awami Markaz. Similarly on Karsaz Road, the build up of vehicles ran from National Stadium up till the Karsaz Bridge.

Conditions were just as tough at another favourite recreational spot, the Karachi Zoological Gardens. Talking to The News, Faheem Khan, the director of the city’s zoo, said an estimated total of 35,000 people visited the zoo on Monday.

Many of them, he admitted, were turned back as there was “simply not enough space”. “This has been happening for the past three years now. Be it Eid, Independence Day or any other public holiday, the number of visitors to the zoo always seems to exceeds capacity,” said Khan.       

As attempts to gain entry to all other spots proved futile, the revellers set their hopes on the one place that never fails, Sea View. However, the ghost of traffic gridlocks continued to haunt citizens as most roads leading to the public beach remained impassable for long stretches.  

‘Need more spaces’

Speaking to The News, Karachi Deputy Mayor Dr Arshad Abdullah Vohra readily accepted the dearth of recreational spaces for the city’s estimated 20 million residents. 

“The Karachi Metropolitan Corporation has been trying hard to restore all abandoned recreational spots in the city. At least 30 places have been restored in districts Central and Korangi.” 

“We have also worked to expand Safari Park. However, these measures will not be enough; there have to be more recreational spots for the people of Karachi,” said the deputy mayor as he vowed that the KMC was working on related plans.

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