KARACHI: The Sindh government has finally signed a facilitation and implementation agreement with the federal government that will allow the centre to operate the Green Line bus rapid transit system (BRTS) project for three years and then transfer it to the provincial authorities.
The agreement has removed a key hurdle from the execution of the federal government-funded project, which has already consumed four years but yet to become operational.
A senior government official said that the key development came recently before Prime Minister Imran Khan had chaired an important meeting at the PM House and reiterated for uplift of Karachi.
“The delay in the facilitation agreement with the Sindh government was a key hurdle in becoming the [Green Line] project a reality,” Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar told Dawn.
The project’s control will be transferred to Sindh govt after the three-year period
“Originally, when the project was launched, it was decided that the project would be jointly shared by the federal and Sindh governments. The centre would build it and they [provincial government] would operate it,” he recalled. “But unfortunately, they [Sindh authorities] backed out and we were left with no option to continue it on our own. So we needed an agreement with the Sindh government for that purpose. We were waiting for this agreement since January  and finally it has been done.”
He said with the key development the project would be further reviewed in the next meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) that would further give a boost to the project’s execution.
With hopes are high for the project after the fresh development, the latest meeting chaired by the prime minister on Karachi was already told that the infrastructure of the project would be completed by within a year.
In February 2016, then prime minister Nawaz Sharif had performed the ground-breaking of the Rs16.85 billion federal government’s BRTS project.
A few months ago the federal government had approved Rs6.5bn more for the project to extend it by another 10km as was initially sought by the Sindh government.
According to the original plan of the Green Line project, being executed by the Karachi Infrastructure Development Company Limited, starting from KESC Power House Chowrangi in Surjani Town, the bus service will terminate at Municipal Park, M.A. Jinnah Road, after passing through Nagan Chowrangi, North Nazimabad, Nazimabad, Gru Mandir, with 22 stations on its route. It will cater to 300,000 passengers on a daily basis.
With over 20km dedicated tracks, including 11km elevated section, the route of the bus service project was further extended on the request of the provincial government. The project is being constructed on a bus-way in the median of the road along the corridor with stations in the centre of the median at the ground and elevated sections, which will provide 25-km-per hour high capacity service to 29,400 passengers every hour.
“The fresh meeting chaired by the prime minister has also decided for capacity building of the Karachi Infrastructure Development Company for some upcoming mega projects. The prime minister has a very clear vision about Karachi and he personally takes interest and seeks updates of all projects. He would meet his commitments,” said Mr Umar.
Published in Dawn, April 6th, 2020