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KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah has expressed concern over the exclusion of the provision of buses and their operational charges from the original PC-I of the Green Line Bus project announced by the federal government for Karachi and asked the federal government to bear all expenses of the project instead of limiting itself to laying its infrastructure.

He also directed the authorities concerned engaged in the Orange Line, Yellow Line, intercity Daewoo bus projects to ensure that not only details of each project were worked out but their agreements were also signed during the current month and groundbreakings held.

The chief minister issued this directive on Monday while presiding over a meeting at CM House held to review the working of the bus rapid transit (BRT) projects. The meeting was attended by transport minister Mumtaz Jakhrani, transport secretary Tauha Farooqui, finance secretary Sohail Rajput, Karachi commissioner Shoaib Siddiqui and others.

Referring to the observation made by the commissioner and briefing by chief financial officer Bilal Ahmed that the federal government had approved the PC-I of the Green Line project with an estimated cost of Rs16.085 billion under the prime minister’s directives. That, he said, reflected that the cost of buses and its operation charges of Rs5.6 billion were included in the PC-I but now stood excluded from the project by restricting it to Rs16.085bn for infrastructure of the project which meant the remaining components were to be financed by the Sindh government.

The chief minister appreciated this move of the prime minister for adopting the Green Line project and added that the prime minister had announced the project as his gift for the people of Karachi. He said there were three important components of each project of the BRT which included provision of infrastructure, provision of buses and operational charges but the federal government was providing only infrastructure cost as it had excluded the cost of buses and its operational charges of Rs5.6bn.

Qaim Ali Shah said it must be clear about the fate of the remaining two components and ownership of the project. However, he directed the provincial finance and transport secretary to work out a strategy to fulfil all requirements of the Green Line project in case the federal government did not pay the additional amount for the remaining two components.

Reviewing progress on the 4.7-kilometre-length Orange Line project, the chief minister directed the provincial transport secretary to resolve technical issues and ensure that groundwork of the project started this month.

Similarly, he directed the provincial transport department to finalise the 26-km-long Yellow Line project agreement and get it signed between the Sindh government and the successful bidder Chinese Company for its implementation this month.

The chief minister recalled that the PPP government, committed to providing quality transport to the people of Sindh, had conceived the intercity transport project to run at least 100 buses between Karachi and each divisional headquarters. He asked the authorities concerned that as all codal formalities had been completed, they arrange the agreement signing ceremony between the Daewoo company and the Sindh government to launch the project within weeks.

Briefing the meeting, the transport secretary said the details for supply of buses and get the Green Line operational under the PPP mode of investment in case the federal government refused to bear buses and their operational charges.

He said work on the Orange Line was almost completed and hopefully its groundwork would start this month. Similarly, an agreement between the Sindh government and the successful bidder Chinese company for the implementation of the Yellow Line project with its estimated cost of Rs18bn was in its final stage and would also be signed this month.

He also informed the meeting that an agreement between the Sindh government and the Daewoo company for the intercity bus project had already been signed and hoped that 100 Daewoo buses would start running on the routes to connect each divisional headquarters with Karachi.

Published in Dawn, November 10th, 2015