Lyari Expressway (South Bound) Inaugurated

Posted on February 11, 2008
Filed Under >Owais Mughal, Economy & Development, Environment
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Owais Mughal

The famous Lyari Expressway project is now open. Atleast in half. The proposed project called for a 4-lane expressway on either side (2-ln each side) of Lyari river. The South bound corridor is now complete and it was inaugurated today (Feb 11, 2008). It is however, not open for general public yet, which is expected to happen in next few days.

The total length of Lyari Expressway, North and South bound combined, is 32.155 km. Out of this, the 16 km long Southern Corridor was inaugurated today. This Southern Corridor consists of 8 bridges and 2 interchanges located at the Gharibabad Graveyard on Sir Shah Suleman Road and Love Lane Bridge in Garden West.

Following is the Route Map of the Project. Note the location of two interchanges (in red ovals) besides the entrance and exit terminal points. The highway marked as RCD highway (N25) is actually part of the Karachi Northern Bypass (M10).

National Highway Authority (NHA)‘s website shows the project start date of Lyari Expressway as May 11, 2002 and completion date of June 30, 2008. NHA website also shows work on Northern Corridor 59% complete and Southern Corridor 100% complete.

Cost of Lyari Expressway project was originally estimated at Rs 5.1 billion but now it is expected to cost Rs. 8.227 billion when completed. Another 5 billion rupees have been spent in the resettlement of the people, which brings the total cost of the project to approximately Rs 13 billion.

Following is the satellite image of Lyari river as it flows from Sohrab Goth and falls into the Arabian Sea. I’ve marked the river and Expressway corridor in green.

Channeling of Lyari River:

According to one study, Lyari river is the main contributor to an estimated amount of 200 million Imperial gallons (909.218 million litres) of raw sewage that enters the Arabian Sea. If you are one of those, who remember the haphazard channel of sewage filled Lyari River, then you will certainly appreciate following photos which show the channeling effort of Lyari River. Also note the flood control embankments being built on either side of the river.

History Leading to Lyari Expressway Project:

Historically Lyari river used to be a source of perennial water which flowed through it during rainy season. An unconfirmed source cites that until 1950s, the river held clean water and fish, with farming activities on its banks. Over the years it has become the largest sewage and rain water dump from all over the city of Karachi. In 1977 there were severe rains and flooding in the city and almost 200 people lost their lives because of Lyari river flooding. This was the first time that WAPDA planners thought of taming the river by building embankments on both sides and taming down the water channel. This plan was never implemented.

Karachi also had a famous master plan released in 1975-76 and called Karachi Master Plan 1975-1985, which called for building a Northern and a Southern bypass to connect Karachi port with Super Highway (M9) and National Highway (N5) respectively. Actually Northern Bypass was proposed even earlier in 1973 as part of Karachi Development Program (1973-1985) as a semi ring road.

In 1989, Lyari Expressway (32 km long) was proposed as an alternative to much longer Northern Bypass (57 km) .

In 1993 there were severe floods in Lyari River again which made the planners think of a multipurpose project of Lyari expressway plus the flood control channeling of Lyari River.

Following two photos show how dangerously close people used to live next to the non-flood water levels of Lyari river. Any rise in water level due to rains caused havoc in these localities. You can note a small wall in the photo to the left to keep water away but ofcourse this could never withstand a flash flood of monsoon season.

In 1996, opposition from people during the public hearings let the provincial government drop plans for building Lyari Expressway as large number of people were to be dislocated. Northern Bypass was considered more effective because it passes through mostly uninhabited area.

In June 2001, there was a change of heart and the government came up with the idea of building both the Northern Bypass (M10) and the Lyari Expressway together in the budget for the bypass alone.

Northern Bypass (M10) is now complete and functional since August 2007. On September 1, 2007 it had the tragedy of a portion of falling flyover on the lower level road.

Four more shots of the Lyari expressway, during its construction phase are given below:

Social Cost of Lyari Expressway:

By some estimates almost 250000 people are displaced as part of clearing-of-way for the Lyari Expressway project. Officially the construction of the Lyari Expressway required the demolition of 15,000 housing units and the displacement of 24,400 families living along the Lyari River. This is thought to be the largest urban demolition project for raod making in Pakistan.

Following two photos show the demolition phase of Lyari Expressway Project.

To resettle the displaced people, the government launched the Lyari Expressway Resettlement Project (LERP). As part of this project, people were given a compensation package that included an 80 square yard plot of land on the outskirts of Karachi and Rs 50,000 for construction. The lands were allotted in newly developed suburbs in Hawk’s Bay, Taiser Town and Baldia Town.

Following Photo shows concrete pouring phase of Lyari Expressway Flyover bridge the Super Highway (M9) at Sohrab Goth.

On a positive note, it moved people from unplanned localities at the banks of Lyari river and put them in planned localities with Schools, Parks, Utilties and for Karachi’s standards comparitively greener localities (with planned tree plantatation) but on a negative note, the 80 sq yard plots given to affectees are too small and may not be equivalent to what these people had to give-up. So there is definitely a social/human cost associated to this mega proect.

The People vs Lyari Expressway:

The controversy surrounding Lyari Expressway was the subject of a 2002 short documentary film titled “The People vs. Lyari Expressway”. The film was written and directed by Maheen Zia and was screened at the Kara Film Festival in Karachi.

Schematic Diagram of Lyari Expressway Project:

Following is the project schematics diagram

Master Plan Map Image:

Following is the image of the original master plan.

Following photo of Lyari Expressway is from August 16, 2008. Photo credits belong to Faisal Rafiq.

I took following photo on Dec 14th, 2009. It shows Lyari Expressway looking north from Sohrab Goth.

Following photo was taken around Dec 20, 2009. It shows the ramp and toll booth to Lyari Expressway at Sir Suleman Shah Road Interchange.

What About North Bound Lyari Expressway ?

Not all encroachments have been removed from the North bound corridor of Lyari Expressway. After the encroachments are removed, Right of Way (RoW) needs to be given to National Highway Authority (NHA) which is responsible to finish the project. As written above, NHA’s website shows 59% work complete on North Bound lanes.

Previous ATP Posts on similar Topics:

1. Peshawar-Islamabad Motorway M1 is now open for traffic
2. RFID based E-toll system introduced on Pakistan Motorways
3. Bridge collapse on Karachi Northern Bypass (M10)
4. Lahore Rapid Mass Transit Rail Project.
5. The Bridges of Pakistan


1. The Daily Times
2. National Highway Authority, Pakistan.
4. Resettlement site emerging as a model town
5. Sprawling Township emerges in Hawkes Bay: Lyari Expressway

6. Lyari Expressway- A land scam?
7. Lyari Expressway: Concerns and Proposals of the Urban Resource Center: by Arif Hasan: Architect and Planning Consultant, Karachi
8. Frontier Works Organization
9. Over 96 percent work on South Bound portion of Lyari Expressway completed in Pakistan
10. Google Earth

27 Comments on “Lyari Expressway (South Bound) Inaugurated”

  1. Qureshi says:
    February 11th, 2008 10:36 pm

    These roads are a major input into economic development. It is good that these have been made and they will have long term benefits.

  2. February 12th, 2008 1:23 am

    Great coverage. Keep it up

  3. Rafay Kashmiri says:
    February 12th, 2008 4:05 am

    @Qureshi Sahib,

    8 bridges and 2 flyovers (missed two fly overs)

    Din phir gaiay jo lyarion kay

    Hamatan muttafiq honay ka, mila hay sharaf mujhko,
    lyarion kay asbab-e-zeest ka khayal aya hay mujhko

    Dekhna, khariday ga, lyaria aik aik, apn apni Garrian,
    Lagaiy ga na’ara Roti,kapra,makan, dekh kar mujhko

    Express-way pay niklay ga, parh kay namaz akhri apni
    Jo khair say agaya wapis, niaz-o-nazr bhaijay ga mujhko

    Iftitahi jumlon mein kaha Musharraf in Land Mafia say
    Tor doonga haddian tamam, Athon mein tota aik jo pull

    Qurb-o-jawar mein, sunna hay, aik qabrustan bhi hay
    Kia khoob dhoonda hay, zalim nay masail-e-ROZ ka hall
    Rafay Kashmiri

  4. Pervaiz Munir Alvi says:
    February 12th, 2008 9:20 am

    “According to one study, Lyari river is the main contributor to an estimated amount of 200 million Imperial gallons (909.218 million litres) of raw sewage that enters the Arabian Sea.”

    “Historically Lyari river used to be a source of perennial water which flowed through it during rainy season……. An unconfirmed source cites that until 1950s, the river held clean water and fish, with farming activities on its banks……… Over the years it has become the largest sewage and rain water dump from all over the city of Karachi.”

    As children we use to go to a small canal few miles from our house for swimming and picnics. My incurable nostalgia drove me to revisit that canal as an adult. For the life of me I could not find the canal even though I knew I was in the right area; till some one pointed out an open stinking sewer in the middle of all sorts of legal and illegal encroachments. There buried was my childhood, somewhere under the garbage piled along the banks of the open sewer.

  5. February 12th, 2008 12:53 pm

    “but on a negative note, the 80 sq yard plots given to affectees are too small and may not be equivalent to what these people had to give-up”

    Do you think earlier they had paid for the land?

  6. Owais Mughal says:
    February 13th, 2008 12:27 am

    Qasim Pasta Saheb, some of them did. Not all the buildings that fall in Lyari Expressway were illegal. I agree, most of the settlement across lyari river was illegla but not all. Near ‘Teen Hatti’ Liaqatabad, I even saw a 4-stories apartment complex with more 100 flats being demolised to make way for the expressway (Jan 2007).

  7. Owais Mughal says:
    February 13th, 2008 1:38 pm

    PMA saheb, your observations about water ways being converted to sewage channels is very true.

    In Karachi, there is another artifical canal called ‘nehr-e-khayyaam’. The name seems to come right of Persian Poetry or ‘alf laila’ but don’t go near the canal. It is one large stinking pool of sewage bringing Clifton’s filth to Boat Basin.

    Not long ago, one could see some actual boating happening in Boat Basin. Boat Basin was connected to main arabian Sea in British time but its fresh water supply got clogged by land-fill which now forms ‘Mai Kolachi bypass’. Its other supply of fresh water was from China Creek which is also clogged due to low tides. The once beautiful outing place of Karachi called the Boat Basin, is now converted into a stagnant pool of stinking sewage. Interestingly it is also located next to the city’s largest eating district.

  8. Owais Mughal says:
    February 13th, 2008 1:43 pm

    This photo in today’s dawn suggests the Expressway is not open for General Traffic yet.

  9. Owais Mughal says:
    February 13th, 2008 2:24 pm

    According to Daily Times, only one lane of South bound corridor has been completed. Second ln is still being worked on. That is why inauguration news said it will be one-way traffic in the beiginning. You cannot have two-way traffic on a single ln

  10. Furhamand says:
    February 14th, 2008 4:18 am

    Refer to the comments please visit the below-mentioned link from today’s i.e. Feb 14/08 DAWN Karachi

    What a beutiful way to cover & support the ‘Bhai Log’ mafia.

  11. Owais Mughal says:
    February 20th, 2008 1:23 pm

    A photo from the construction phase of Expressway here

  12. Owais Mughal says:
    February 20th, 2008 1:24 pm

    One more photo of concrete pouring here

  13. Owais Mughal says:
    February 21st, 2008 11:24 am

    Photo of Lyari Expressway Entrance Ramp here

  14. Owais Mughal says:
    February 22nd, 2008 10:00 am

    Photo of police patrol at Lyari Expressway here

  15. M Touseef says:
    April 16th, 2008 3:58 am

    Good Work / Very Hard.
    God Bless uuuuuuuuuuu.

  16. Owais Mughal says:
    July 25th, 2008 3:03 pm

    Following two photos show the latest progress on North-bound lanes of Lyari Expressway

    (1) Here and (2) Here

  17. Owais Mughal says:
    January 1st, 2009 11:42 pm

    Another photo of Lyari Expressway here

  18. Owais Mughal says:
    January 4th, 2009 11:19 pm

    This photo is from Jan 4, 2009. It shows on-going work on North bound Lyari Expressway near Hassan Square

  19. Owais Mughal says:
    April 1st, 2009 9:34 pm

    Last photo of the post added today.

  20. Owais Mughal says:
    April 28th, 2009 12:06 am

    An interesting photo of a Lyari Expressway curve here

  21. Owais Mughal says:
    December 15th, 2009 10:45 pm

    Yesterday I drove across the full length of Lyari expressway. We entered at Sohrab Goth interchange, paid 15 rupees toll and came out at Mauripur Road interchange. It literally took just 15 minutes to drive from Sohrab Goth to Mauripur which I though was very impressive knowing that it can easily take more than an hour if we use city roads to cover the same points.

    Minus points were the foul smell that comes from the Lyari river itself being the largest drain of the city – i don’t think there is any short term solution to it. Another thing I noticed that people have started removing the protective fences and loiter on the expressway as if it is a picnic spot. This was particularly visible in southern most part between Garden and Mauripur area.

    I also noticed major works needs to happen on north-bound lanes. A lot of demolition needs to happen to make way for north bound in several areas.

  22. Owais Mughal says:
    January 25th, 2010 11:40 am

    I drove the full length of Lyari Expressway on Dec 14th. The northern part of the highway from Sohrab Goth to Lasbela bridge is in pretty good shape but in Trans-Lyari area south of Garden e.g. Bihar colony, Agra Taj colony, Mewa Shah etc area people have started removing fences to cross the road. They don’t understand the concept of street v/s a highway and freely roam on the highway after climbing through the broken/stolen fences. That was one observation I made on the negative side.

  23. Owais Mughal says:
    January 25th, 2010 11:46 am

    Last two photos of the post added today. I took these photos on 14th and 20th of December 2009 respectively.

  24. Owais Mughal says:
    February 26th, 2010 12:52 pm

    Manghopir interchange of Lyari Expressway got inaugurated in early February 2010.

  25. Shaikh Abdul Azeem says:
    March 21st, 2010 3:24 pm

    I just want to say that purpose of Lyari Express Way was to provide trade route to heavy traffic.And now hevy traffic is not allowed on the high way! so they should not take extra area.B/c in 50,000 you can not make home in such inflation time people are suffering from this decision. I pleaded that please reduce the size of remaining Lyari Express Way .

  26. Owais Mughal says:
    March 24th, 2010 3:37 pm

    While Lyari expressway project has done a good job in channelizing the river lyari, not enough is done to stop people walking across it and using raw sewage for bathing. Following photo is from 3rd week of March 2010.

  27. Mujeeb says:
    February 13th, 2011 10:46 pm

    i want say …. lyari expressway new karachi town tak aana chahye. new karachi k logon ko bhi facility mil sake!!!!

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