KARACHI, Oct 1: The city’s first underpass constructed under the Tameer-i-Karachi programme at a cost of Rs170 million was opened for traffic on Saturday after its formal inauguration by the Federal Minister for Ports and Shipping, Senator Babar Khan Ghouri.

The ceremony was attended by Federal Minister for Housing Safwanullah, Provincial Ministers Syed Sardar Ahmed, Shoaib Ahmed Bukhari, Advisers to Chief Minister Waseem Akhtar, Noman Saigol, M.A. Jalil and officials of the Ministry of Ports and Shipping, Karachi Port Trust, the FWO, and others.

The 550-meter long underpass, with a 60-metre long bridge, is constructed at Schon Circle, and is part of the Rs700 million Mai Kolachi bypass development project being implemented by Karachi Port Trust (KPT).

Speaking at the ceremony, Senator Ghouri said though there was work remaining at the underpass, it was thought proper to open it for vehicular traffic for the convenience of people especially in view of the approaching month of Ramazan.

He appreciated shopkeepers on both sides of the underpass site for bearing with them the period of construction, and said once the side roads were completed, their problems would also be resolved.

Mr Ghouri said it had been decided to utilise the land bank of the KPT for the city’s development and beautification.

In this regard, he referred to the KPT’s mega projects like construction of 500-ft high water jet, which would be inaugurated on the midnight of Dec 31, 2005, he said.

He also informed the audience that work on the Port Tower project would start soon while a food street of international standard would also be completed soon.

Yet another of the KPT’s project, he said, would be a bridge, which would connect Clifton with Manora, Sandspit and Hawkesbay, adding that the project had already been tendered.

The federal minister declared that more underpasses would be constructed in Karachi.

Earlier, presenting the welcome address, the Chairman KPT, Vice-Admiral Ahmad Hayat, said the KPT Underpass was quiet unique in the sense that the entire tunnel was a seamless RCC tubular structure.

He said the project had been completed in 210 days with the efforts of the FWO being the main character.

The vice-admiral informed that the KPT’s total contribution to the Tameer-i-Karachi project was Rs2.5 billion.

The other projects of the KPT include a Rs606 million flyover on Korangi Road, which was a three-tier flyover and would cater to the traffic needs for the next 25 years. There would be no signals at intersections and the movement of traffic from all five directions would be uninterrupted. The flyover would be completed by Dec 2006.

He said the M.A. Jinnah Road was the third project of the KPT, which extended between Keamari and Jinnah Bridge and would be completed by April 2006. The fourth project of the KPT was the M.T. Khan Road.

He said once completed, these projects would be handed over to city government for maintenance.

The Chairman KPT, however, said the Trust was not building road projects at the cost of the port’s development. Rather, the KPT was in the process of redesigning 12 of its existing berths to 16 meters for handling dry cargo, he said.

He said the KPT was in the advance stage of buying two state-of-the-art dredgers, the delivery time of one of them being March 2006. The KPT was also in the market for two 50 tons billiard pull tugs.

Similarly, he said, the KPT had embarked on many other port infrastructure development projects.

Vice Admiral Ahmad Hayat informed the gathering that the KPT had embarked on the construction of one of the deepest container terminals in the world. Ten berths at a depth of 18 metres and with a length of 350 metres each, and a turning basin in excess of 600 metres, it would be amongst the most modern and progressive terminals anywhere.

He said the KPT was also negotiating with the private sector for setting up a LPG terminal at its Sandspit site and a bulk terminal at East Wharf.—APP