New uplift schemes for Karachi get little attention in Sindh’s budget for 2020-21

Updated June 18, 2020

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Opposition members in the Sindh Assembly protest against the government during the budget session on Wednesday.—PPI
Opposition members in the Sindh Assembly protest against the government during the budget session on Wednesday.—PPI

KARACHI: While the Sindh government is busy in battling an unprecedented health challenge, new development schemes for Karachi got little attention in Sindh’s budget for 2020-21.

Although the Sindh government has made budgetary allocations for several key ongoing infrastructure projects, documents show it allocates Rs1.94 billion for ‘Mega Schemes for Karachi city’.

The entire allocation of Rs1.94bn is made for 18 ongoing development schemes — the projects which had been approved in the previous budgets — and one new scheme for which a paltry sum of Rs9 million has been allocated.

The estimated cost of the new “mega scheme for Karachi” is Rs190m and it relates to providing and fixing traffic signals, gantries, signboards, indication boards with rehabilitation/beautification works on business area roads, Saddar.

On the other hand, the Sindh government allocates an amount of Rs868.10m for operation and maintenance of RO plants in Lyari and Keamari.

Rs868.10m allocated for operation and maintenance of Lyari and Keamari RO plants

The development budget of local government for the next financial year is pitched at Rs12.17bn. Besides the provincial annual development programme, Rs7.69bn has been kept for foreign-funded projects.

A whopping Rs5.548bn has been allocated for the Sindh Solid Waste Management Board.

While Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah specifically mentioned “urban road Karachi” in his budget speech in the Sindh Assembly on Wednesday, his government did not allocate a single penny for any such scheme.

“Keeping in view the economic significance of Karachi, combined with the losses in economic productivity caused by the deplorable traffic conditions on key routes near Karachi Port, the Sindh government has initiated procurement of consultancy services for development and rehabilitation / upgradation of three road routes namely (i) Link Road for Korangi; (ii) Expressway from Mauripur Road to Y-Junction; and (iii) Interchange at ICI Bridge,” the CM said.

He said the purpose was to relieve severe traffic congestion at peak hours at the key routes. “Moreover, the proposed Link Road for Korangi carries strategic importance as it will provide an alternative route to Korangi and serve as an emergency access route for the Southern Air Command of the Pakistan Air Force,” he added.

Malir Expressway

Mr Shah also mentioned in his budget speech the Malir Expressway project and said that it was awarded in a transparent bidding process at a price of Rs27.5bn.

“As per commitment in the budget speech of 2019-20, the government of Sindh has again fulfilled its promise by launching the biggest infrastructure project for Karachi i.e. Malir Expressway, a 38.75 kilometres controlled access six-lane project under public-private partnership,” he said, adding that the project was expected to reduce the travel time from over an hour to 25 minutes.

KCR and BRTs projects

The CM said that his government was committed to reviving the Rs207.5bn Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) project.

The Sindh government has allocated Rs3bn for the construction of underpasses and overhead bridges over railway crossings along the KCR route.

He said the four-kilometre-long Orange Line bus rapid transit system (BRTS) connecting to the Green Line is expected to be completed this month.

He said Green Line, a federal-funded project, is expected to be completed by December. “However, the integrated intelligence ticketing system (IITS), bus operation and fare collection system is being taken up by the government of Sindh under PPP mode,” he added.

Two projects — 29-km-long Red Line at an estimated cost of Rs74bn, and 22-km-long Yellow Line at an estimated cost of Rs61bn — are included in the current year’s ADP with the assistance of Asian Development Bank and the World Bank, he added.

K-IV and S-III

Talking about the Greater Karachi Water Sewerage Project, commonly called S-III, and the Greater Karachi Water Supply Project (K-IV), the CM said the total expenditure incurred on these schemes till May 15 was Rs11.4bn.

“Main emphasis was given to complete ongoing schemes which had reached on advance level of implementation. The matter is being pursued with the federal government to release its share,” he added.

Mega project for KWSB

The CM told the house that a megaproject — Karachi Water and Sewerage Services Improvement Project — for the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board has been approved at a total cost of Rs3.4bn with the financial assistance of the World Bank.

The project relates to infrastructure development of the KWSB facilities and aims at revamping the entire institutional infrastructure to make it “a financially viable customer-oriented world-class water utility of Pakistan”.

“The total investment committed for the project is $1.6bn over a span of 12 years,” the CM said, adding that during this period the entire infrastructure needs of Karachi will be met through World Bank, AIIB and Sindh government investment at a ratio of 40:40:20. However the contribution of the government of Sindh in governance and institutional reforms is 100pc.

Published in Dawn, June 18th, 2020