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Saturday June 25, 2022

Protesters slam authorities over gated Frere Hall garden

Karachi Urban Lab says government’s plan to enclose Frere Hall calls for an urgent heat risk mitigation strategy during heat waves

By Our Correspondent
June 20, 2022
Protesters demand Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah and Karachi Metropolitan Corporation Administrator Barrister Murtaza Wahab immediately stop the construction of the gate at Frere Hall. -Courtesy Shahzeb Jillani
Protesters demand Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah and Karachi Metropolitan Corporation Administrator Barrister Murtaza Wahab immediately stop the construction of the gate at Frere Hall. -Courtesy Shahzeb Jillani

Civil society, urban rights activists and concerned citizens held a protest against the Sindh and Karachi administrations on Sunday over the installation of a gate along the boundary of the Frere Hall’s garden.

New pillars and beams to build a gate on the Abdullah Haroon Road side have been met with criticism from leading urban rights activists. The protesters said the move is not environment friendly, and seems to be a concerted effort to reduce or restrict Karachi’s green spaces.

They demanded that Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah and Karachi Metropolitan Corporation Administrator Barrister Murtaza Wahab immediately stop the construction of the gate.

Architect and urban planner Marvi Mazhar, one of the protest’s organisers, said the Frere Hall is one of the most democratic, interactive and well-utilised public spaces for all classes in Karachi. “Neo-liberal decisions of fencing, gating, arching is an act of obstruction. Protecting public spaces needs debate with the public.”

Protesters said the Frere Hall is frequented by citizens for recreation, by discussion groups, by students and by young TikTokers. They said that gating, fencing, barbed-wiring, cordoning and such other moves will be strongly opposed. They also said it is their right as citizens to have unobstructed entry to public parks.

The Karachi Urban Lab, which focuses on critical urban planning, said the government’s plan to enclose the Frere Hall by fencing, gating and charging fees flies in the face of the calls for an urgent heat risk mitigation strategy during heat waves.

The Frere Hall is located in the city’s colonial-era Saddar Town. The hall is located between Abdullah Haroon Road (formerly Victoria Road) and Fatima Jinnah Road (formerly Bonus Road).

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