SITE: When industrialists are forced to work in a ‘pigsty’

Published: May 20, 2013
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But why is this estate that contributes approximately 28% to the nation’s treasury dubbed as a mere ‘sty’? PHOTO: EXPRESS

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.

Photo: Reuters

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.

Photo: Online

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.)

Photo: http://www.site.com.pk

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.

Photo: http://www.site.com.pk

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!

Follow Majyd on Twitter @MajydAziz

majyd.aziz

Majyd Aziz

An industrialist; a Former President of Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, a Former Chairman SITE Association of Industry, a Chairman of SME Bank Ltd, a Founder Chairman of Pakistan-Sri Lanka Business Forum, Pakistan-Indonesia Business Forum and one of the Founders of Pakistan-Japan Business Forum. He tweets @MajydAziz

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Majyd Aziz

    Thank you for publishing it on the Blog. Much obligedRecommend

  • Chaudhry of Nowhere

    SITE reflects our general state of affairs. We reap what our leaders have sown.Recommend

  • Khurram

    Dear sir
    while glancing over the blogs, the catchy title took my attention. i am sorry but i read the article with a purpose to add some thoughts at the end. probably i thought i was more conversant over the topic. well indeed no.
    the usage of words needs appreciation as u used very mild words to express the filth which is being nourished there.it is like the second home to the gangsters.
    but i can disagree on one things as i can still see the sunlight and a ray of hope.
    Let us wish and pray together that In Sha Allah in near future this place will regain its past and would be cleaned out of the dirt, mud and robbers / gangsters. Recommend

  • http://www.combustec.com Asghar Morawala

    May I know what happened to huge funds handed over to SITE Association by Provincial government, and I think Federal share of Grant is still pending. The Caretaker Government should take steps to get it released to the SITE Association.Recommend

  • Khurram

    Dear Asghar
    we are a nation which needs no definition. we a r crowd with no direction at all. A flock moving and doing thinks haphazardly. We must know where that grant must have gone.
    @Asghar Morawala: Recommend

  • Nadir

    And what about the state in which labourers have to work? No proper ventilation, clean drinking water, fire safety etc? Another case of tax evaders at the top wanting the state to shore up their profits.Recommend

  • Max

    I read your articles regularly sir and enjoy the insights you offer on most topics. However, the topic under discussion is most relevant to you considering your prominent position in the industry. Unfortunately, and with due respect, industrialists have contributed equally to the degeneration of the area in question. Industrialists were/are taking away billions in profits from their factories here, yet they contribute nothing to the upkeep of the vicinity, and have zero contribution to CSR. Rather than prominent association members like you lamenting the sorry state of affairs, shouldn’t you and your peers have given this aspect proactive thought some 10 or 20 years back? I mean, if industrialists in Sialkot can build and operate their own airport, why couldn’t the industrialists in Karachi just manage to participate in saving their surroundings from decay and neglect? I’m sure something could have been done, but sadly the over-riding traits of our business elite in Pakistan have been greed, apathy, and blaming the Government for everything, characteristics that have led to the sorry conditions in our country in general. I see some hope in the next generation, so all is indeed not lost as you portray. Stay blessed.Recommend

  • Parvez

    The pictures given are not so much pictures of disgusting garbage and pollution but more so picture that reflect the minds of our leader both in government and out of it.
    Recommend

  • Usman

    Industrialists come in their air conditioned cars, sit in their air conditioned offices and go back to DHA, KDA and PECHS in their air conditioned cars. The audacity!!Recommend

  • Sane

    For what SITE Association is? Whose responsibility is for development rather rebuilding of infrastructure? And what Industrialists are doing for safety of precious lives of workers? Both areas need to be addressed.Recommend

  • Ahsan

    My factory is located in the Haroonabad area of SITE. There are literally no roads in my area. Everyday I come here and it’s like that I climb a mountain to reach my office. Its the worst place. No devolopment, no infrastructure and the most important point NO SECURITY at all. I’ve been mugged twice in last 3 months and no body is accountable. The police vans keep visiting our factories to make their pockets heavier almost everyday. We cannot bring our cars to this area as we are afraid of being mugged and secondly there are no roads so brining a car here means destroying your own car. Its been 10 years since I joined this place and since then I haven’t seen a single road being constructed in this area. People belonging to many political parties come here with “Bhattay ki Parchi” on regular basis and we cannot do anything!

    The only reason why we are here in SITE area is because all our customers are here in this area and it saves us transportation cost.

    If any of the government official reading my comment I request you to please look into this matter SITE is the HUB of Industries in Karachi and one cannot ignore this area. Thank you.Recommend

  • Haroon

    I work in the SITE area and completely agree with the contents of this article. Everyday commute is a struggle due to hopeless law and order situation and dilapidated road conditions. Owners have stopped visiting their factories due to security concerns/kidnap threats and many professionals are trying to seek employment elsewhere. If nothing is done soon this area will turn from a red to a no go zone. Recommend

  • Majyd Aziz

    @Chaudhry of Nowhere:
    Yes sir. Unfortunately.Recommend

  • Majyd Aziz

    @Khurram:
    You are right. We should not lose hope. That is why we are still hereRecommend

  • Majyd Aziz

    @Asghar Morawala:
    No sir, unlike KATI FBATI NKATI etc NO funds were released to SITE Association Recommend

  • Majyd Aziz

    @Khurram:
    Pls check my reply to Mr Asghar MorawalaRecommend

  • Majyd Aziz

    My thanx to all those who have commented on my article. While I respect the opinion of each and everyone, i have this feeling that some of them have missed the point. This article was meant to depict the existing situation in SITE. Some of you have brought up labor issues and some cannot stand the profits made by industrialists.
    The fact of the matter is that SITE was not like this till about six or seven years ago. Yes, it has its problems but the infrastructure was not in shambles. It all started when political “supervision” commenced in SITE Ltd. Then when the e.coli hit the fan. one young erstwhile Chairman prepared a video showing the rot in SITE. The concerned Minister did everything except hanging him upside down. Private sector Directors in SITE Ltd kept quiet. From that day, no SITE Chairman or leader “cared”!!
    What do the industrialists do now? Right now, when we dont have law and order, we hired security guards, when we are not given water, we dig tubewells and set up reverse osmosis plants, when we dont get electricity, we have set up captive power plants. Money that should go into production is diverted to survival because the state has abdicated its responsibility.
    Some of you have blamed us for “exploitation” of workers.This is just a hackneyed accusation always made by armchair social activists who have ZERO idea about the industrial working environment. Grow up!
    You should all be proud of SITE industrialists who are operating their plants inspite of all the mess created by the state. Take comfort that we are here and have not shifted to UAE, Malaysia, Bangladesh, or EVEN Punjab.
    What do you want? Industries or warehouses? Or CNG Stations, Or shops? You decide before you criticize.
    SITE is the best customer of KESC and SSGC. Please check with them. We dont employ child labor. Please check with ILO. We all believe in Corporate Social Responsibility. Please ask the many social welfare institutions and even our employees.
    We earn honest profits. We are entitled to air-conditioned cars, homes, and offices. Dont grudge us for that.
    Thank us for still believing in Pakistan and the Pakistan worker. Meantime, raise your voice against those who have siphoned off billions of our contribution to SITE Ltd.
    By the way, students of world-famous Binoria Madressah in SITE are protesting on Wednesday against roads, garbage, crime and corruption, etc. It seems that my article was the catalyst.
    FOR THIS I THANK EXPRESS TRIBUNE FOR PUBLISHING THIS ARTICLE. Recommend

  • Majyd Aziz

    @Sane:
    It is prime responsibility of SITE Ltd and not SITE Association.Recommend

  • http://www.combustec.com Asghar Morawala

    @Majyd Aziz:
    Yes I agree its SITE Ltd, who has to take control, and SITE association, are contributing huge amount for this area, rather business community in Karachi, are running many hospitals and are the biggest donors to different causes related to Karachi, but we need all to stand and try to give our share of working and thoughts, as a citizen all businessman paying huge taxes have right to live their own way of life, which they have earned it by the hardwork, and Business community are asset of our country, who in these conditions are trying to pull economy of the country, they should be appreciated.
    regarding funds from Sindh government, for development of the area, I was in the meeting, with the care taker chief minister, which we were informed about Sindh government contribution, and to take immediate steps for recovery from federal Government, and Care taker P.M. was contacted on this issue, Majyd Aziz your reputation is so high, get that moving, still you have time, and Mr Khalid Tawab, a sitting minister is very kind and keen to resolve this issue. so I will request you to contact him, and try to move things in right direction.
    regardsRecommend

  • Sane

    @Majyd Aziz:

    I do agree what you say in your blog post and later in rejoinder comments. No one, I believe disagree with problem as you mention and efforts you and other industrialists make to stay in this country. Bravo…. Your blog post is aimed to talk about the shambles and filth witnessed everywhere in SITE, which is absolutely correct and requires immediate corrections. You invest, you take risks (even you life now-a-days law and order situation specially in SITE) and you deserve comforts and luxuries. Correct. My respected Majyd Aziz Sahib kindly also look into the other side ….. the workers. These workers are also capital through which you run your business. You and others must be contributing in welfare and other charities. But, it needs to do more, knowing the misery of poor masses and workers in the industries.Recommend

  • Max

    @Majyd Aziz:
    Relax sir, no disrespect was meant, it was just honest feedback on your article. Though I did not raise the exploitation issue, the fact is that I have personally witnessed the same, financial and otherwise. Having worked in various sectors for a number of years, I have personally seen the level of exploitation of unaware workers that industrialists indulge in. For example, I once visited a MDF board plant in SITE where the main work of crushing chunks of wood for use in MDF boards was being done and powdered wood was everywhere. But workers in the zone had no protective gear for their eyes or noses. The owner when asked said they never spend on protective equipment! This is just one of many instances I have seen across many industries. One can close their eyes to reality, but that doesn’t change the facts.

    As for security, water and power plants, it’s not just factories, even at homes one has to take same measures for fulfilling everyday needs. Does the state make special arrangements to provide all these things at household level? I don’t think so.

    No one will thank industrialists for believing in Pakistan, and everyone who wants to leave is leaving. Those who are staying are doing so out of their own compulsions. They know they can never enjoy the level of luxury and exploitation of the system as they do in Pakistan. Having travelled all over the world, I can safely attest to that fact.

    And lastly, feeling proud of kids protesting for the rights of an industrial area, that’s a downright shame. If industrialists can’t take a stand for their rights and are cowered by inept and corrupt politicians, it’s unrealistic to count on those kids to achieve any results.

    I reiterate, no disrespect meant sir, discussion should be a two way street, not just one party talking down to the other. Regards.Recommend

  • Majyd Aziz

    GOOD NEWS: SITE LTD starts URGENT repairing of the potholes at the crossroads near Valika Bus Stop and Metro supermarket. Reaction to the article? WELL DONE EXPRESS TRIBUNERecommend

  • Ace

    @Majyd Aziz:
    Good job sir. Now it’ll take less time to get to the factory that is without any security, water or power.Recommend

  • http://www.combustec.com Asghar Morawala

    @Majyd Aziz:
    This is what it is this was also, moved the same day When I was present in Care taker C.M. Sindh, and ordered to at least fulfill, potholes on emergency basis, so Care Taker government has now started repairing, so my advice to take advantage of our business man in Sindh government as ministers be taken as good opportunity.And we keep our voice heard, and continue to do it……Recommend

  • Majyd Aziz

    Thanx for your comments. Everyone has right to his/her opinion regarding industrialists and what we do to workers etc. One thing for sure, . . . . . I sent the link to this article to people all over the world (especially USA). The feedback is fabulous. Just see for yourself. Within 24 hours action taken. What happened all of a sudden?
    Just a friendly advice. If you are in Karachi, please do visit SITE. Recommend

  • Usman

    @Majyd Aziz

    An industrial area in Karachi is bound to look like it does. In contrast, look at Raiwind industrial are in Lahore. It reflects the over all planning and good management of the city. Complaining about the condition of one area is useless. Karachi needs an overhaul in general, and it needs to start from the slums and working class areas. Majid saab, please stop fighting for the rights of industrialists, they have politicians and bureaucracy to do that.Recommend

  • mokh

    Have had a small factory in SITE for nearly 30 years-totally agree with your article-and there may be rich owners making a killing but I am now running my business to keep my staff in a job-theyve been with me many of them since the beginning-not running at a loss yet but getting there if things dont improve drastically and soon-and yes the last 7/8 years have been the worst downslide in the area-believe it or not this factory owner used to live on the premises we’re not all living in defence and Clifton
    All money that should be spent on development of business and upgrading machinery to make us more effective against international competition goes on as you sat tubewells,generators,purchase of water tankers etc-we even had to pay KESC for our own transformer-although it still belongs to them!Recommend

  • syed

    Administration by any government is business, Sind Government is on top of the list.
    Juicy government posts are auctioned by politicians or top bosses. Greed for money opens gate for corruption at all levels. Over and above this law and order situation in Karachi makes it difficult for people to come out and ask for the redress of their complaints.
    MQM and PPPP are solely responsible for this state of affairs. So long people go on voting for these parties don’t hope for better.Recommend

  • http://. Abid P. Khan

    @Max:
    “…The owner when asked said they never spend on protective equipment! This is just one of many instances I have seen across many industries. One can close their eyes to reality, but that doesn’t change the facts. …..”

    .
    You described reality. This gentleman’s job is to promote among things, the good image of the members of his organisation. Without trying to sound too offensive for some one who is in damage control business, he is forced to take an offensive stand.
    .
    In a country where labour laws guarding labour rights are practically non-existent, where very few effective labour unions exist, the whole idea for the owners is to exploit to the maximum. By allocating near to zero rupees on safety of the workers one gets away cheaply. Self evidently nothing will be handed over to the workers on a platter. They will have to fight for their rights.
    .
    Recommend

  • Silwat Afzal

    How true Our City once the city of Lights is becoming a city of Darkness . Majid Aziz’s observation and naration have been very aptly put and on a gentler note . The amount of Loss this city faces in terms of Human Life as well as environment degradation will surley bring adverse results if a Change in system towards a positive built up is not brought about. Recommend

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