KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah on Wednesday decided to give Rs2 billion subsidy to transporters to launch a fleet of 600 vehicles to meet the growing requirement of quality passenger buses in the city.

He took the decision at a meeting on intra-city and intercity bus services at the CM House.

Transport Minister Nasir Shah said that Karachi needed at least 8,000 buses. He recommended to the CM a new mechanism to add at least 600 large buses in the public transport system to meet minimum requirement of the city.

He said it would be effectively supported by the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) system, which was about to be launched.

The chief minister has approved Rs2bn subsidy for transporters

CM Shah said his government would assist transporters in the form of a subsidy for a period of five years.

“The government will provide a subsidy of Rs2bn, which would be placed with the Sindh Modaraba, before the publication of an advertisement,” he said, adding that the equity-debt ratio would be 70:30.

The transporters’ equity would be 15 per cent and the Sindh government would contribute a similar amount in the shape of interest-free loans, repayable by the transporters within a year of the completion of the loan to the Sindh Modaraba Limited, he added.

The chief minister said the government would also provide 30pc credit risk guarantee for the outstanding principal loan amount, excluding the Sindh government equity.

The transport department also proposed to start an intercity project under the same mechanism as the intra-city project. Under the proposal, the Sindh government would bear the cost of insurance of a vehicle, which would be insured through the Sindh Insurance Ltd and that would be around 5pc of the value of the vehicle.

CM Shah said only locally assembled vehicles would be financed. It was also proposed that if a transporter managed to repay all instalments in time, maintained the vehicle in roadworthy condition and otherwise fulfilled all obligations, the Sindh government would waive its portion of the cost of 15pc.

Blue Line project

In his presentation on the Blue Line project, the transport minister said its route would be from Al Asif Square (Sohrab Goth) to Golimar. It would be a 12-kilometre-long route of which 6.6km would be elevated. The project would have nine stations, five of them would be elevated and three at grade. There would be a ridership of 375,000 daily.

Transport Secretary Taha Farooqui said the route would start from Al Asif Square via Yousuf Plaza, Naseerabad, Ayesha Manzil, Karimabad, Liaquatabad, Dak Khana, Teen Hatti and Gurumandir.

Mr Shah said better transport services were long overdue for Karachi where hardships for commuters were on the rise requiring the government to be focused on improving such facilities, which would also uplift its overall image.

The chief minister asked the transport department to fulfil all the requirements to launch such projects as soon as possible. The Sindh government would assist the transporters financially and administratively, he said.

Published in Dawn, March 30th, 2017