A complicated and slow system of approvals has discouraged them
Builders in Karachi have started to look for business opportunities in other cities due to the slow and complicated process of approvals in the city.
Construction companies believe Islamabad and Lahore among other cities are safer to invest in as compared to Karachi.
Arif Jiwa, the former chairperson of ABAD, is one of the builders working in Islamabad. He is also the vice-president of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce.
The Capital Development Authority takes only two to three months to approve projects, while in Lahore projects can get approvals within 45 days, Jiwa told SAMAA Digital.
In Karachi, the same process can take as long as two years, he said. “The authorities in Karachi require dozens of NoCs and approvals of plans take a lot of time.”
The difference in policies has changed the priorities of the builders. He said over 20 big builders in Karachi are now working in Islamabad and Lahore.
“Builders have never been satisfied while working in Karachi,” he said, adding that the city was given importance because the demand was low in other cities.
Jiwa said the government’s policies to help the construction sector flourish have also resulted in more business opportunities. “Banks lending out loans on low-interest rates is helping the construction industry.”
Echoing Jiwa’s views, ABAD’s Chairperson Fayyaz Ilyas said that the situation will lead to Karachi people living in illegal houses and the number of katchi abadis will increase.
Punjab is benefitting the most from the government’s low-cost housing schemes. “Sindh’s system is so complicated that deadlines for such schemes pass while people are still trying to arrange the relevant documents.”
Ilyas said the Sindh Building Control Authority announced a one-window operation but never implemented it. He urged the government to address these issues to ensure construction activity in Karachi flourishes and the housing needs of its people are met.
The ongoing anti-encroachment drive throughout the city is another discouraging factor for the builders and developers according to people working in the industry. To make the most of the government’s free tax regime, easy bank loans, and other such incentives, the builders are now considering other cities.
Defence and Clifton Association of Real Estate Agents President Zubair Baig said that many new projects have yet to acquire completion certificates which is the reason why many potential customers fail to get applications for bank loans to buy apartments.
The SBCA doesn’t, however, hold itself accountable for the delay in approvals.
According to its spokesperson, the delays are not deliberate. “If and when applicants complete the documentation requirements, approvals are granted immediately.” He said the SBCA wants to facilitate builders since they contribute to the economy positively.