Access To Shelter

Box – 3: The Informal Developers of Faisalabad

Chaudhary Ghulam Rasool Cheema is a Faisalabad informal developer. His family came from Gurdaspur in India and lived near a village on Jaranwala Road. His first job was as a Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) storekeeper. He began this business because his salary was not enough to support his big family. He has been a member of the Pakistan Peoples Party and later of the Pakistan Muslim League. To begin his business he sold a piece of land that he had in his village which is about 20 kilometres distance from Faisalabad. He chose to work along the Jaranwala Road because the people of the area knew him because of his political activities. He planned his first housing scheme in 1990 but work on it started in 1994.

Uptil now he has completed five small schemes each having 70 to 150 plots. The size of the plots is usually 5 marla and the measurements are 30 feet front into 45 feet depth. The streets are 20 to 28 feet wide. He raises the streets 2 feet above the road level. If the streets are not raised then people do not buy the plots because they are afraid that the settlement will get flooded. The earth work for the streets is done by the Afghanis who have trolleys and jack machines for this job. Local people do not do this work since they have no experience in it and no machinery. For setting up his business he employs two persons as office staff. However, he hires a number of “field workers”. These field workers contact prospective clients, prepare layout on site and supervise earth filling.

When a project begins he usually has about 20 field workers who provide forms to the clients at Rs 10. If they sell ten forms in a day they earn Rs 100. For the advertisement of a scheme a pamphlet is prepared and is given in newspapers inviting young middle or metric educated boys to come and work as field staff. These boys go to the areas which are congested or where people do not have their own houses. They brief them about the scheme and try to convince them that they should buy a plot. Most of the boys who respond to Mr. Cheema’s ad, already have experience in this field. They are given a further incentive of a commission for each plot that they sell. The planning of the scheme is done by Mr. Cheema himself after which the sketches are provided to a draftsman for further development. The draftsmen who work for him are Faisalabad Development Authority (FDA) employees and are hired by him on a per job basis. The most important criteria for the purchase of land for the scheme is availability of transport, which means access to the main inter-city road, and electricity. If the land is more than 2 kilometres from the inter-city road, the scheme does not sell. There is no attempt to develop corner plots or commercial plots. It is simply a 5 marla subdivision.

In the smaller schemes Mr. Cheema provides no services such as water, sewage or electricity. People acquire water by hand pumps, which they later convert to piston pumps, sewage through self-help (it invariably disposes into a canal) and electricity through lobbying with WAPDA. The developer does not keep any plot for speculation but 30 per cent of the plots normally remain unsold for a period of 3 to 4 years. There is a written agreement with the person who purchases the plot and proper records of receipts of instalments paid is maintained. People invariably pay regularly by coming themselves to Mr. Cheema’s office. For the transfer of land from the land owner to Mr. Cheema, both the parties visit the divisional headquarters where land records are kept. Here they pay the legal as well as “the other” charges. In the revenue department ledger, land remains as agricultural and streets and roads are recorded as amenities. The cost of transfer of land to the developer is borne by the purchaser.

When Mr. Cheema started his business in 1990, he had to look out for people who wanted to sell their agricultural land. Now that people know that he is in business and has an office where plans are displayed, land owners come to him themselves. Also, wherever he develops a scheme, he puts up a board on which the name, plan and details of the scheme are given. Mr. Cheema says that the success of these schemes lies in the fact that the developers have understood what a poor man can afford to pay and they act accordingly. He also says that if the government could support this activity and provide the developers some loan, then in two to three years time there would be no one left in Faisalabad who was homeless.

Source: Observations and interviews by the author.

The Demand-Supply Gap and how it is met

For population growth alone Pakistan requires about 575,000 housing units annually. Of this 250,000 are required in the urban sector1. Housing backlog figures differ extensively. According to government estimates, there is a housing backlog of 6.1 million units, which does not appear accurate2. Similarly, 70 per cent of all housing requirement is supposed to be for the lower income group. However, figures worked out by academics seem to be more accurate and place the backlog at 1.4 million housing units for both urban and rural areas. The number of units that need to be replaced yearly also works out to about 75,000 units both in urban and rural areas3. Thus, housing demand (if we are to remove the backlogging in ten years) works out to about 800,000 housing units. No figures are available for the rural sector but for the urban sector about 30 per cent of the demand is met by the formal sector. The rest is met through the formation of katchi abadis. Thus, the urban demand-supply gap is about 175,000 housing units. 25 per cent of this unmet demand is accommodated by the creation of katchi abadis; 60 per cent through the informal subdivision of agricultural land; and 15 per cent through densification of inner cities or existing settlements4.

  1. Worked out from the 1998 Pop­u­la­tion Cen­sus Report, Gov­ern­ment of Pakistan
  2. Daily News Karachi, 12 Jan­u­ary 2004 quot­ing offi­cial sources
  3.  Gurel, S. et al: Hous­ing Para­me­ters: Dawood Col­lege, Aga Khan Pro­gram for Archi­tec­ture and Urban Design, Karachi, 1992
  4.  Hasan A: Hous­ing: Lessons from How the Urban Demand-Supply Gap is Met in Pak­istan: paper read at the IAP National Sym­po­sium on Hous­ing, Lahore, Jan­u­ary 2004

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