Construction package: Not a silver bullet!

Publication Year : 2021

PTI’s incumbent government assumed office in July 2018 with many tall promises on their election manifesto and obviously, the slogans must have attracted masses to bring them in power. Among the promises, provision of 5 million houses and jobs stand prominent though PTI leadership was not able to validate their construction policy foresight clearly for another 18 months. People were in wait to see advertisements for jobs and dream houses- but the poor peoples’ SANTA didn’t arrive. All of us understand that no state can provide such large-scale employment and housing without engaging the private sector, and perhaps this is what policy circles have been trying to convince the government for long. The current package is not the first of its kind, all past governments had such initiatives- starting from the President Ghulam Muhammad’s era, then Z. A. Bhutto’s regime followed with ‘Roti, Kapra aur Makaan’ slogan. During Zia’s martial- law, his premier M. K. Junejo also launched a program for the provision of 5-7 Marla houses. PML (N) government first launched ‘Mera Ghar’ in 1992 and ‘Aashiana’ in 2010. Some other city level community-based programs are documented as success including the Orangi Pilot Project (OPP) in Karachi in the early ’80s, ‘Khuda Ki Basti’ (KKB) 1985 in Hyderabad, Karachi, and Lahore, and Faisalabad Area Up-gradation Project (FAUP) in 1992. Federal OPF, provincial housing authorities/foundations, city development authorities, and private sector hosing schemes developers also joined the housing bandwagon in the ’70s. These programs largely failed because of their poor and far-off location (primarily utilizing state lands) except for ‘Mera Ghar’, and for their concentration over the plot-based single unit housing model. And somehow, all were executed as discrete projects without a well-thought-out vision.