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World Bank approves three projects for Karachi

Updated June 29, 2019

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The bank approved $382m for the ‘Karachi mobility project’ that will improve access to jobs, mobility, and safety. — AFP/File
The bank approved $382m for the ‘Karachi mobility project’ that will improve access to jobs, mobility, and safety. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The World Bank has approved three projects for Karachi that will help improve urban management and investment environment; mobility, accessibility and safety along selected corridors; and access to safe water services.

These projects, approved on Thursday, build on findings of the ‘Karachi Transformative Strategy’ which estimates infrastructure needs of between $9bn and $10bn in financing over a 10-year period to meet infrastructure and service delivery needs in urban transport, water supply and sanitation, and municipal solid waste.

World Bank Country Director for Pakistan Illango Patchamuthu while commenting on the approval of the projects said that “investments to improve institutions, services and infrastructures will further enhance the city’s contribution to the country’s economy and people’s well-being”.

The bank approved $382 million for the ‘Karachi mobility project’ that will improve access to jobs, mobility, and safety through a ‘Bus Rapid Transit’ system along the 21-km ‘Yellow Corridor’.

The corridor starts at Dawood Chowrangi in the east, runs through the Korangi industrial area, and ends in Numaish at the city centre. It is one of five priority lines in the city’s transport plan and will benefit commuters along Surjani town and Korangi industrial area, and will reduce travel time, road traffic fatalities, and reduce emissions.

A key focus area of the project is to provide safe and secure transport for women’s mobility. Women have a particular low economic participation rate in Karachi at 8 per cent. This is due to the lack of affordable, safe and secure transport.

The project is planned to be completed in six years, starting from July this year.

The Competitive and Livable City of Karachi project will receive World Bank’s $230 million funds to improve urban management, service delivery and the business environment. It will help improve performance and service delivery by local councils through performance-based grants for urban property tax system, incentivise private sector participation in service delivery, enhance ease of doing business, and improve solid waste management.

According to the project document, Karachi faces substantial challenges on urban management, service delivery and business environment, which this project cannot alone fully resolve. The project will begin to address these constraints by selectively tackling critical bottlenecks.

While the scale and complexity of challenges are significant, it aims to tackle some of these constraints in an incremental and systematic way through selected interventions.

Activities under the project will help put the city on a long-term path towards achieving adequate service provision and a competitive business environment.

The business environment in Karachi is significantly hampered by weak and fragmented regulatory governance. The private sector is required to deal with multiple regulatory agencies at the provincial and municipal level to register a business, secure licences/permits to initiate operations, maintain licences and comply with regulations governing various inspections. Almost all regulatory processes are manual and paper-based with minimal automation, leaving considerable room for discretion and creating significant uncertainty in the business environment.

Published in Dawn, June 29th, 2019