KARACHI: The Sindh government has ordered removal of all impediments in the completion of the much-awaited Green Line bus rapid transit project so that it can become operational by next year.
Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah issued such directives during a meeting held at the CM House to review the work on Green Line, which is being undertaken by the Sindh Infrastructure Development Company Ltd (SIDCL), on Wednesday.
SIDCL chief Sualeh Farooqui briefed the meeting about the decision taken by the prime minister for making a formal agreement with the Sindh government regarding the operations of the Green Line.
Mr Farooqui told Dawn that the Green Line would be ready for operation by March 2020.
He termed today’s meeting quite productive in which all necessary decisions were taken by the chief minister.
He said that CM directed the transport department to prepare a draft agreement and other required documents in consultation with all stakeholders including the Sindh Mass Transit Authority.
The federal govt will control the project for first three years after signing an agreement with the Sindh govt
He hoped that the agreement would be signed within next two weeks, paving the way for issuing an international tender to invite operators.
According to the decisions taken by the CM, the operation of the Green Line would be undertaken by SIDCL for first three years and a formal agreement would be signed between the Sindh government and the SIDCL.
The SIDCL will closely coordinate with the provincial government for transfer of the project upon its completion.
The chief minister directed the authorities concerned to expedite the completion of Green Line so that buses could start operation next year.
The meeting was attended by Local Government Minister Saeed Ghani, Transport Minister Awais Shah, Chief Secretary Mumtaz Shah, Planning and Development chairperson Naheed Shah, World Bank’s acting country director Melinda Goods, principal secretary to CM Sajid Jamal Abro, SIDCL chairman Samar Ali Khan, Green Line project CEO Sualeh Farooqi, LG secretary Khalid Hyder Shah, transport secretary Abbas Detho and others.
CLICK project to be completed in five years
The CM also held a meeting with a two-member WB delegation, led by acting country director Ms Goods, to discuss the Rs33.6 billion WB-assisted Competitive and Liveable City of Karachi (CLICK) project.
The meeting was told that the Sindh government would start work on the project from next year and it would be completed within five years.
The meeting was informed that the project was aimed at supporting the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation and all six district municipal corporations, district council Karachi and excise and taxation department. The provincial investment department would also be supported under the project for taking positive steps towards ease of doing business.
The chief minister directed the chief secretary to hold a joint meeting of the KMC, DMCs, District Council and Excise and Taxation department to chalk out a plan to formally devolve the collection of property tax.
“I am keen to financially strengthen the local bodies in the city so that they emerge as self-sufficient organisations,” he said, adding that under the project capacity building of the local bodies concerned would also be made for collection of the property tax.
The project has three components — $120m for performance-based block grants to Karachi urban local councils; $50m for strategic infrastructure investment and capacity building in integrated storm-water drainage and solid waste management and $30m for support for urban immovable property tax reform and institutional capacity building.
Its main coordinating agency would be the LG department. A project management unit (PMU) would be established to provide overall coordinating and necessary technical assistance to Karachi’s local councils.
The project’s executing agencies for specific interventions under this arrangement will be the KMC, DMCs, KWSB and excise and taxation department for their respective components.
Overhauling of KWSB
The chief minister said that the Karachi Water and Sewerage System Improvement Project (KWSSIP) was being launched with the assistance of the World Bank for $1.6bn under which Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) would be overhauled over a period of 12 years.
The KWSSIP will be completed in three phases. The first phase is estimated at a cost of $400m focusing on improving water and wastewater services and a defined set of institutional reforms to transform the KWSB into a financially viable utility.
P&D chairperson Naheed Shah told the meeting that the first phase of the scheme of overhauling KWSB had been approved for Rs14.7bn over a period of five years. The project had also been approved by the central development working party (CDWP).
Published in Dawn, July 18th, 2019