IT Tower project dead and buried

KARACHI: Ambitious IT Tower project planned near the Civic Centre Karachi is now practically dead and buried and a big ditch dug up about a decade back to lay foundation of this project is still there, depicting the performance of our bureaucracy and how vital national projects are scarified on the altar of political expediency.

IT Tower was a multi-storied building that was scheduled to be constructed on University Road, besides the Civic Centre. The proposed covered area of this plan was approximately 2.7 million square feet, spread over 47 floors.

The primary use of the tower was planned as a call centre and office space, with 1,300,000 sq ft (120,000 m2) spread over 32 floors being put to this use. There will be 12 elevators handling the call centre and office users with a multi zoning concept to minimize the travelling time for the users. It is designed to have a maximum waiting time of 30 seconds. Six elevators in the centre core and escalators within the retail floors are also being provided for easy movement for shoppers.

The IT Tower will house its own power generation plant of 18MW, it own independent water supply designed to re-cycle the water usage in line with environmental conservation, security management systems, fibre-optic connections, and fire fighting systems.

The then City District Government Karachi had signed a deal with the IJM Corporation Malaysia and Astra Netcom Limited and Malpak Limited Dubai on February 14, 2008, in Kuala Lumpur. However, no one now knows about the status of this deal and how many funds were spent on this abandoned project from the government exchequer and what was the reason to abandon it.

IT Tower was scheduled to be built at an estimated cost of around US$ 200million in Karachi. When completed, it would have to be the country’s tallest building and have space for 10,000 call centre seats.

The agreement to this effect was signed by City Nazim Syed Mustafa Kamal on behalf of the city government while Mr Dato Goh Chye Koon, Mr Rakesh Gupta and Mr Sarfraz H. Rizvi signed it on behalf of their firms IJM Corporation Berhad Malaysia, Astra Netcom Ltd and Malpak Ltd, respectively.

This gigantic project which was expected to be made operational in two years was hoped to bring economic revolution in the city as it would, on the one hand, make available IT infrastructure and human resources and, on the other, would help provide 40,000 jobs to the educated youths.

IT Tower would have wireless internet access in its campus with satellite and terrestrial links for voice data, video-conferring and connectivity with worldwide customer workstations. According to the then city nazim Mustafa Kamal, 60% of the call centre capacity had already been booked up by various companies.

The project would have 10,000 call centres, parking facilities for 2,100 cars on its five floors, city government offices on five floors and many other facilities as well.

The IT Tower was meant to introduce the concept of a fully functional Call Centre, the first of its kind in Pakistan. The developer will set up the entire Infrastructure to operate a call centre (Technology Equipment, Computers, etc.). This would then be leased out to customers willing to operate a call centre and provide them with a ‘plug and play’ model. Apart from providing the technology and equipment infrastructure along with furniture and fittings, the developer is also going to provide trained work force for the clients.

The Tower complex was designed to create State of the art offices fully equipped with technology, which will ensure that all users are ‘Online’ as soon as they move in. Multinationals and leading local firms are target customers and there is a huge demand for this keeping in view the present supply and demand scenario in Karachi. The office users will have direct lifts for them to travel avoiding the retails and shopping crowds.

According to the plan there were 12 lifts handling the call centre and office users with a multi zoning concept to minimize the travelling time for the users. It is design to have a maximum waiting time of 30 second which is being introduced in Karachi for the first time.

The IT Tower was expected to be the only complex in the city to offer a car parking facility for 2100 cars spread over 3 Basements and 10 floors of elevated structure.

As per the plan a banquet hall with the 1000 seating capacity is located on the 16th floor of the Tower. It is facilitated with the kitchen, and additional smaller size seminar rooms.

With elevated car park under this floor, the guests will have the convenient to park cars and attend various functions suitable for corporate and business market during day time or the Pakistan’s favourite wedding ceremony or Dinner function at night.

IT Tower was to introduce the first of its kind “sky hotel” where the lobby is located on the 35th floor. Surrounded with the open sky garden concept, the hotel tenants and public can enjoy the magnificent view of Karachi day and night. The open areas have specialty restaurants with option for open or close dining arrangement, coffee house, and lounge.

It was planned that one of Karachi best shopping complex will be located in the IT Tower; Karachi spread over 4 floors with 1 anchor tenant e.g. Giant or Tesco. This concept would be introduced in Pakistan in a big way through the IT Tower. The shopping centre shall provide direct access from the parking area for all visitors. 6 lifts in the centre core and escalators within the retail floors are also being provided for easy movement for shoppers.

However, this project was abruptly abandoned soon after digging a big ditch on the site to lay the foundation of this building. There is no official explanation about leaving this important project which would have boosted call centre industry in Pakistan and provided jobs to thousands of people was left unfinished.

It may be recalled that the Philippines has boosted its economy through call centre industry which is earning billions of dollars annually for that nation.

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