SITE: When industrialists are forced to work in a ‘pigsty’
Ironically, the largest sty in the world is located in Pakistan. In fact it is in Karachi, known as Sindh Industrial Trading Estate (SITE) Karachi. It is an industrial estate with over 3,000 industries, shops and warehouses. SITE is managed by a quasi-government organisation called SITE Ltd while the ‘tenants’ are represented by SITE Association of Industry.
But why is this estate that contributes approximately 28% to the nation’s treasury dubbed as a mere ‘sty’?
The answer lies in the tour of this 4,500-acre estate.
I once wrote a satirical letter to editor that USA was looking for Osama bin Laden (OBL) in the wrong place. OBL was probably hiding in SITE all along because it looked like Tora Bora. Unfortunately, today, it is many times worse than that.
From the moment one passes through one of the many entry points – be it from Banaras Colony, or from Mauripur Road, or from Nazimabad, or from Metroville or any other entry point – till the time one leaves the estate, one would undoubtedly agree that SITE is a rather ugly sight.
The infrastructure in SITE has totally collapsed; roads are full of potholes, drowned in stagnant water, and so bumpy that motorcyclists find it hard to handle their vehicles.
Industrialists who daily traverse on these roads dread bringing their new cars to this filthy place. Commuters travelling on buses usually sit on the roof and perform acrobatic feats in an attempt to save themselves from falling off. The worst nightmare is travelling on side roads or lanes. These are akin to rocky and steep mountains in Balochistan or Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KPK.)
SITE is blatantly encroached by whosoever pays the piper. Makeshift huts are found at every corner of this place; these shops sell food, betel leaves, oil, or just about everything. Even the drains are encroached. The janitorial staff is seldom seen in the area. The whole estate is filled with unpicked garbage that at times spills over on the roads and lanes. Graffiti, like political slogans, threats from ethno-religious-political elements, remedies for male impotence and for haemorrhoids, and of course for educational institutions, are on nearly every wall. Obelisks, billboards, and even curb stones are not spared by graffiti writers.
Things become difficult and frustrating when criminals indulging in street crime take advantage of the dilapidated roads where vehicles have to slow down. They snatch cell phones and wallets conveniently, confidently and shamelessly.
The administrators of the estate rarely ever leave their respective offices. However, it is said that the concerned minister would regularly visit SITE Ltd. Why?
Who knows, but the sad fact is that SITE has crumbled and is probably beyond repair now. I beg to ask, what happened to the millions in development allocation? Where have the funds gone?
The SITE Association of Industry is no more a strong body. It has no voice whereas once it was called the Voice of Industry. The Association leadership and senior members (including me) are concentrating more on Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The industrialists and traders in SITE have accepted that it is better to be quiet and, when needed, pay bribes and get things done. After all, there is no other option left.
Hashim B Sayeed, Former Chairman and a Founder of SITE Association of Industry, once very harshly and with disdain and scorn in his voice, had termed SITE as a “pigsty”. How right he was!
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