KARACHI, June 7: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah on Friday gave a go-ahead to a plan to revive the Karachi Circular Railway, which would now be completed with an estimated cost of over $2.6 billion.
The project, whose cost has escalated from $1.58bn to $2.6bn over the recent years, is expected to take three to four years to become operational.
The chief minister gave the green light while presiding over a high-level meeting held here at the Chief Minister House.
He said that the circular railway was a long-awaited project and now it ought to be implemented without any further delay. The available means of transportation were not sufficient to meet the requirement of Karachi, he added.
Mr Shah said with the revival of the circular railway the common man would be the most beneficiary therefore all necessary measures be taken to initiate work without any further delay.
Earlier, Chief Secretary Ijaz Chaudhry informed the meeting about mode of transportation in the metropolis.
He said that there were approximately 47.3 per cent motorcycles, 36.5pc private vehicles, 4.5pc public transport, whereas 9.9pc and 1.7pc para-transit and contract carriages in use, respectively.
He further said that 4.5pc of public transport vehicles carried 42pc of total commuters in the city. Similarly, he added, private vehicles catered to only 21pc load.
These figures indicated a big gap of public transport on all major routes in the city and the circular railway was the need of the hour, the chief secretary said.
Mr Chaudhry said that after its revival, the circular railway route would be from Nipa Karachi Circular Railway Station to North Nazimabad, Lyari, Machhar Colony, Saddar, Kala Pul at Mehran Station, and then round up via PAF Museum Sharea Faisal to Nipa KCR station.
He said under the project, trains would be available at Nipa KCR station after every five minutes.
The revived circular railway would cover a total distance of 43 kilometres, the chief secretary said.
He added that passengers would be charged Rs25 each for a full roundtrip, indicating that 50 paisas would be charged per kilometre.
He said the fare had been kept low so that the revival of the circular railway could benefit the people.
The chief secretary said that to make the project viable and effective, the KCR would be connected with different areas of the metropolis through a shuttle service of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).
He said the passenger living as far as in Surjani Town, near National Highway, Landhi, Korangi, Steel Mill, Malir and other areas could avail the BRT service to reach the KCR stations.
This would facilitate at least two million passengers on a daily basis, he added.
According to him, around 700,000 commuters use public transport on a daily basis in the city. By the time the KCR revival project was completed the figure would have gone up to three million a day, he said, adding that it necessitates the earliest completion of the project.
The meeting was further informed that the project was first initiated by the Japan International Cooperation Agency. Later, technical and financial evaluations were done by European and American companies on the advice of the Planning Commission of Pakistan, it was said.
The project would cost $2.6 billion, approximately Rs247 billion, and this would most probably be completed within three to four years.
Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Memon, Chief Minister’s Adviser on Finance Murad Ali Shah and other senior officials attended the meeting.