KARACHI: The Sindh transport ministry has signed an agreement with a large private bus service provider that would translate into running of 1,000 buses in the provincial capital in coming months, Transport Minister Awais Shah said on Saturday.
The intra-city bus service on a fast-track basis is in furtherance of the government’s plans to launch bus rapid transit systems and rail mass transit systems, he said.
Speaking at a press conference at his office, Minister Shah termed it good news for the people of the metropolis, saying that an agreement had been signed between his ministry, under the People’s Bus Service, and the Daewoo Pakistan Express Bus Service Ltd under which 1,000 buses would be running on various routes of Karachi.
“The Sindh government is set to execute the plan to run 1,000 buses on various routes of Karachi under the People’s Bus Service for which we have inked an agreement with the Daewoo Company,” said the minister.
He said 200, out of the total 1,000 buses, would be running on the roads of Karachi within the next two months in the first phase of the plan. Similarly, the same number of buses would be added to the system in the space of couple of months.
The new AC buses to cater to 40 routes, each route not to be longer than 15km
The new bus service would cater to the city’s 40 routes and each route would not be longer than 15 kilometres.
“We are finishing the routes’ plan as each route would be as long as 10km to 15km,” said the minister.
He said similar bus services would soon be launched in other cities of Sindh.
“This is a gift for the people of Karachi from [Pakistan Peoples Party] chairman Bilawal Bhutto,” said Mr Shah.
He rubbished the constant criticism by certain opposition parties that the ruling PPP was ignoring the sprawling capital of Sindh, saying such projects clearly showed how “baseless” those claims “against our party are”.
“[With] each project like this offered and executed by our government, we continuously expose those elements who are criticising us on baseless grounds. These elements claim that we don’t care for Karachi or punish its people because the PPP has not won seats from there. Our actions clearly prove such claims as nothing but false and politically motivated,” the minister said.
“This is good news of huge proportions that will certainly mitigate the city’s most neglected problem,”
He said the project had the financial implication of Rs15 billion, which the government, despite enduring worst financial hardships due to stoppage of Sindh’s funds by the Centre, had approved to provide people quality means of transport.
Sheikh Rashid attacked
Answering a question regarding the Karachi Circular Railway, the minister grabbed the opportunity to criticise Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, claiming that the ministry could not efficiently run as long as Mr Ahmed was its minister.
“He has the habit to change statement with the blink of an eye. The Sindh government is ready to begin work on the KCR. We are waiting for the no-objection certificate from the minister, we are waiting to see when he begins removing encroachments on the track of the project as he has recently claimed in a recent statement of his. We are ready to join hands with him, but he is not coming forward,” said Minister Shah.
He said he did not see completion of the federal government’s Green Line Bus Project by 2020. However, he added, the provincial government would not stop other bus services because of delays in the Green Line project.
The transport minister said the provincial government had taken all stakeholders, including transporters, in confidence for the project assuring them that “this project will not hit anyone of them”.
He said all buses would run on CNG and would not be affected even if there was no CNG available in the city.
Shehryar Chishti, chairman of Daewoo Bus Company, said best business model had been devised by his company for the sprawling city and soon the new buses would be there to ease transport issues of the people of Karachi.
He said all buses would be air-conditioned that would offer quality transport facility on economical fares.
Published in Dawn, May 12th, 2019