“ The world will be going flat”
I read this article with this caption a few years back. We shall have to develop our infrastructure to be at par with the world. Due to the digital revolution and easy accessibility of information public pressure on governments is more than ever for performance and delivery, and this pressure is mounting with every passing day. Pakistan is the world’s 5th largest country in terms of population, if we compare the infrastructure with developed countries we lag far behind them in terms of housing, roads, freeways, railways, airports, hotels, amusement parks, entertainment facilities, shopping malls, schools, universities, hospitals, etc. Even if we compare to developing countries like of Far East, Eastern Europe, Middle East, still we are far behind in terms of infrastructure which is required to meet the growing needs of the local population. Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad are progressive cities and have huge business activities, don’t get any 5-star Hotels in the last three decades despite the fact that population and economic activity grows significantly. Similarly only a couple of hospitals have in the last three decades been built.
We are deficient in housing requirements vis-à-vis the growing population. Although there are haphazard growth of societies and towns in all major or small cities over the last two decades but this is without any proper planning and facilities. Slums located on precious urban properties can be converted into multistory complexes with good planning and saving precious agricultural lands. The government has taken some initiatives to discourage the use of agricultural lands but lot works has to be done for the slums and urban planning. All the major cities with over 1 Million population needs major infrastructure overhauling and need new Master plans from reputed local/international consultants, which caters the growth cushion of next 50 years at least.
Although since the dawn of 21st century lots of work is done for the roads improvement across Pakistan today our mileage per Km is better despite the growth of significant traffic. Still a lot of work needs to be done in construction of freeways in cities and motorways. There must be a clear policy that every city with over 1 Million populations must have ring road along with North-South and East West freeways. All the upcoming Motorways on main grids must be of four lane and existing motorways to be upgraded to four lanes due to growing traffic.
Conventional railways network needs improvement for which ML-1 like projects are in pipe lines. Conventional railways will be used for transportation of goods as major and for passengers Hyperloop technology needs to be brought in with Public Private Partnership through international biddings.
Pakistan has one of the largest man made irrigation system in the world, which needs major revamping. Although lots of work was done in last two decades but still many major canals lining is pending. In addition to canals new barrages need to be constructed for better storage and flow of water. Barrage to canal tail ends should not be more than 100 km in length. Some good news from government, they are working on Sindh barrage downstream Kotri barrage which is a good beginning. In addition to this Sehwan barrage and other similar projects needs to be initiated for better availability of water across Indus basin. This activity needs lots of involvement of construction activity as well.
There is no 5 star hotel constructed in Pakistan in last 30 years, there is growing need of good quality hotels with competitive pricing. Due to scarcity of hotel rooms the prices of 5/4 start hotel rooms are abnormally on higher side even if we compare it in PKR terms with many parts of the world. There must be incentives and healthy competition for new players to enter in this area of huge potential of economic activity revenue generation and employment.
There is scarcity of amusement parks in Pakistan hardly one can count on fingertips. There is need of world class amusement parks for sites to be marked by the Federal/Provincial Governments and development needs to be done through Public Private Partnership. This again is a huge area for revenue generation and employment.
Entertainment facilities like Cinemas, Theatres and art galleries etc. also small in numbers. Construction of more facilities like this will sure not only help artists but generate economic activity.
Considering the population of Pakistan quality shopping malls are scarce across country. In last decade some good quality shopping malls were built across many cities this is just beginning and this country need more in times to come.
Quality hospitals both in Public sector and private sector vis-à-vis population are not enough that’s why we see strained health capacities. The amounts spend by the Federal and Provincial governments needs to be diverted to health insurance and health facilities should be managed by private sector. This will make the competition healthy and eventually people will get the fair facilities against the spending from the government’s kitty in the name of public.
Significant work done in green energy in last decade and we see the growing share of green energy in our energy production. This current trend needs to be pushed more to increase the foot print of green energy in our use.
Alternate to Karachi, Gawadar port is being developed but the pace is quite slow also the city Gawadar itself lacks the basic amenities like power water, gas etc. With better equipped facilities Gawadar will surely unleash the great potential this city has. In addition to this small town across the coast line needs to be developed as tourism spots with again Public Private Partnership.
Although, governments are already working in these areas at various levels but more channelized efforts will bear good results. Government institutions especially at low and mid-level management have capacity issues which can only be overcome by engaging with private sector who has the capacity but lacks resources.