KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly was informed on Thursday that Pakistan Railways was not cooperating with the provincial government to give the right of way for the construction and revival of the Karachi Circular Railway.
Giving a statement and responding to the lawmakers’ written and oral queries, Minister for Transport and Mass Transit Syed Awais Qadir Shah said that the land could not be made available to the Karachi Urban Transport Corporation to reconstruct the KCR as the “Pakistan Railways is neither ready to disturb its main railway line nor its trunk lines in the city.”
He said that the federal government’s assistance was urgently required in that regard, adding that in such a situation it was necessary that the federal government construct the KCR project.
The minister also informed the lawmakers that the under-construction section of the Green Line Bus Rapid Transit Service (BTRS) project was being delayed due to the “lethargic” attitude of the federal government that had not yet given the timeline to hand over the completed corridor to the provincial government.
Minister says provincial government would invite bids for the procurement of buses for Green Line after corridor is handed over to it
The minister said that the provincial government was not in a position to start the process of procurement of buses for the under-construction Green Line section as the Karachi Infrastructure Development Company Limited (KIDCL), the federal entity responsible for constructing the project, had not yet given the timeline to hand over the infrastructure of the project to the provincial government.
He also recalled that Prime Minister Imran Khan during his visit to the metropolis had offered to purchase buses for the Green Line project to make it operational, but afterwards no correspondence was made by the federal government as a follow-up to the PM’s announcement.
“The chief minister has written several letters to the federal authorities asking them to hand over the constructed section, but to no avail as no response has been received so far”, he said.
Procurement of buses for Green Line
The minister said that the provincial government would invite bids for the procurement of buses for Green Line once the corridor was handed over to it by the KIDCL.
He said the KIDCL authorities had verbally told the provincial government that the infrastructure of the Green Line would be handed over to the provincial government by Dec 15 last year.
Answering a question asked by opposition member Arsalan Taj Hussain regarding plans for the mass transit system for Karachi, the minister said that the Green Line project was being executed by the federal government through the KIDCL.
He said the infrastructure component of the second BRT project, Abdus Sattar Edhi Line (Orange Line), would substantially be completed by the end of March.
Red Line, Yellow Line projects
Mr Shah further said that the third BRT project, Red Line, was being executed with the assistance of the Asian Development Bank. “The project will be completed in two years after approval of PC-1 from the Central Development Working Party (CDWP) and completion of the procurement process.”
He said that the fourth BRT project, Yellow Line, would be executed with the assistance of the World Bank and it would be completed within two years after approval of PC-1 by the CDWP and completion of procurement process.
The minister informed the lawmakers that proposals were invited for the induction of buses on intra-city routes with the induction of at least 200 buses by an operator/consortium/joint venture.
He also said that the existing operational fleet of public buses, minibuses and coaches on the intra-city routes and contract services were 17,488.
Leader of the Opposition Firdous Shamim Naqvi said that phase one of the corridor of Green Line section had been completed for which the provincial transport minister should readily give the timeline to purchase buses to make it operational at the earliest.
However, the minister said that a mere announcement that phase one of the Green Line BRTS corridor had been completed was not enough. “The opposition leader should make the KIDCL send a formal correspondence to this effect to the Sindh transport department,” he said, adding that he was ready to make the announcement on the floor of the house to give a timeline for purchasing buses to make the Green Line project operational.
The transport minister said that the proposed Red Line section of the BRTS would become the first mass transit project in Karachi, which would be operated on environment-friendly biogas fuel under the hybrid fuel system with compressed natural gas.
He informed the house that approval of the PC-1 for the proposed Red Line section project of the BRTS had been pending with the CDWP of federal ministry of planning, development and reform.
The minister said that further progress on the Red Line mass transit project in the city could not be made until its feasibility was approved by the CDWP.
He again sought assistance of the opposition legislators in the house belonging to the PTI to get the PC-1 of the Red Line bus project approved by the CDWP so that the Sindh government could arrange loans and complete other formalities to build the project.
Published in Dawn, February 8th, 2019