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KARACHI: The long-awaited Sindh Mass Transit Authority Bill, 2014 was unanimously passed by the provincial assembly on Thursday when the report of the standing committee on transport and mass transit on the government bill was presented to the house and taken up for consideration.

The passage of the bill has removed the hurdles of the government in implementing its projects to provide safe, efficient, comfortable, sustainable and reliable forms of mass transit system to the people.

The house also adopted another government bill – The Karachi Institute of Technology and Entrepreneurship Bill, 2015 – aimed at enhancing educational facilities to encourage the participation of private sector in education, to promote an ecosystem of interdisciplinary education, applied knowledge and entrepreneurship.

Besides, The Sindh Prohibition of Sheesha Smoking Bill 2016 was introduced in the assembly.

Earlier speaking on the mass transit bill, Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said the committee submitted its report after an inordinate delay. He said the assembly had been waiting for standing committee’s report to get the bill passed since its introduction in December 2014. In the absence of the authority, he explained, the government was unable to implement its projects of improving the transport system.

CM’s vehicle

He asked all the ministers to get their vehicles registered, while claiming that he had already got the plate of “Chief Minister” removed from the vehicle in his use replacing it with the registration number plate (GSC-560). He said he got the flag removed from the car of a minister for want of registration number plate. “First we should follow the traffic laws then we would ask the people to implement the rules,” he said.

All the three bills were piloted by the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Nisar Ahmad Khuhro.

While speaking on the general principles, Transport Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah said: “It was Shaheed Benazir Bhutto’s vision to provide modern transport system to people. The mass transit project was initiated in 1994, but it could not be implemented after her government was toppled.”

The present PPP government had already taken initiative work on the Orange Line in Karachi and more MoUs would be signed to start blue, yellow and other lines whose junction would be set up at Gurumandir.

Other lawmakers who highlighted general principles of the bill included Mumtaz Jakhrani, Mohammad Ali Bhutto and Ghazala Siyal of the PPP, Syed Sardar Ahmad, Saifuddin Khalid and Dilawar Qureshi of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, Samar Ali Khan and Dr Seema Zia of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, Mehtab Akbar Rashdi and Nusrat Sehar Abbasi of the Pakistan Muslim League-Functional and Ismail Rahu of the PML-Nawaz.

After the passage of the Karachi Institute of Technology and Entrepreneurship bill, the house was adjourned by Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani at 1.30pm to meet on Friday at 10am.

Point of order

Earlier, leader of the opposition Khawaja Izharul Hassan speaking on his point of order expressed concern over the violation of parliamentary practice for not bringing the imprisoned Karachi mayor Wasim Akhtar to attend the KMC council on Wednesday. After being administered the oath of his office, the mayor had not been allowed even to pay his respect to Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah at his mausoleum, said the opposition leader.

“He can be released on bail in the cases in which he has been implicated and the entire city could stand for his surety in the cases. It is a very sensitive issue,” he reminded the house and sought chief minister’s intervention to get the mayor permission to discharge his responsibility and attend the council session.

The chief minister assured the house that he would do whatever was possible under the law as the elected mayor was facing cases in courts.

In response to Mr Sherzaman’s notice about increasing accidents on Mai Kolachi Road due to closing of one of its portion during night by the US consulate, the chief minister said that not only Mai Kolachi, where the consulate was situated, but at many other places also the roads were closed due to security reasons. However, he said, the government would ensure presence of traffic police there in case of road closure after midnight.

Responding to the call attention notice of MQM lawmaker Mr Khalid about vacant posts in Abbasi Hospital, local bodies minister Jam Khan Shoro informed the house that the hospital was overstaffed. He said the chief minister gave Rs170 million grant to the KMC and expressed the hope that the KMC would be able to run the hospital.

Published in Dawn, September 30th, 2016