First batch of 40 Green Line buses arrives in Karachi

Published September 20, 2021
(Clockwise) A crane unloads the first bus at the Karachi port on Sunday. A view of the interior of a bus. Officials of different organisations at the quay during the unloading process. Asad Umar, the federal minister for planning, congratulates Karachiites on the buses arrival. A security man pictured in one of the buses.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
(Clockwise) A crane unloads the first bus at the Karachi port on Sunday. A view of the interior of a bus. Officials of different organisations at the quay during the unloading process. Asad Umar, the federal minister for planning, congratulates Karachiites on the buses arrival. A security man pictured in one of the buses.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

• Asad says Karachi needs modern transport system
• Reveals Ecnec may approve KCR project today
• Governor opposes KMC tax collection through electricity bills

KARACHI: A batch of 40 buses, which will be part of the federal government’s Green Line project in Karachi, arrived here from China on Sunday.

After a gap of 40 years when the tragic death of a girl in a road accident drastically changed its political situation, Karachi is for the first time getting a modern transport system, observed federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar while addressing the ceremony held at the Karachi Port Trust about the delivery of the buses that arrived under the Rs27 billion project.

Mr Umar was apparently referring to the 1985 traffic accident in the city in which Bushra Zaidi, a student, was killed. The incident triggered ethnic violence that lasted for a long time, affecting political situation in Karachi.

Governor of Sindh Imran Ismail also spoke at the event.

The two in their speeches said “another milestone” had been achieved as part of Prime Minister’s Karachi Transforma­tion Package aimed at improving the transport system in the provincial capital.

“For the first time, we are bringing modern transport system to Karachi,” declared the minister while regretting that the country’s mega city, which gave most of the taxes, had been deprived of a modern transport system in the past.

This was the first batch of vehicles as 40 more buses would arrive next month, thus a total of 80 buses would operate on the 22km dedicated corridor from Surjani Town to Gurumandir and Numaish in phase-I.

The minister said commercial operation of the buses would start within next two months as software would be installed and drivers would be trained while the tracks and stations had already been completed.

“This is the first project under the Karachi Transformation Project while five other mega projects are underway,” noted Mr Umar.

He said Ecnec was likely to give final approval of the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) project in its meeting on Monday (today) and the premier was expected to perform ground breaking of the project, which would gradually provide transport facility to up to one million passengers, initially catering for 450,000 passengers. He said three more projects of “big roads” on Orangi nullah, Gujjar nullah and Mehmoodabad nullah spread over 54km were expected to complete soon and concrete walls would also be erected along the banks of the drains.

“Within next few weeks, Karachiites would continue to hear good news,” said the minister.

He said the federal government was paying special attention to Karachi because the PTI and its allies won 19 seats out of total 21 seats of parliament from the city besides it was the mega city of the country that gave more revenue to the Centre.

The past governments ignored the metropolis, he regretted and noted that Prime Minister Imran Khan took keen interest in uplift of Karachi.

“For last several months, we tolerated criticism but mega projects take time in their completion,” said the minister.

“We are not giving any favour to Karachi but it deserves this.”

He said the PTI-led federal government was also giving special attention to 14 other districts of Sindh.

He said the concerned board would give approval to bidding for Rs200bn worth Hyderabad-Sukkur Motorway very soon.

Replying to a question, Mr Umar grudgingly admitted that the Green Line bus project was launched in the past but uttered some sarcastic words for the previous rulers.

The minister said importance of modern transport system for Karachi could be gauged from the fact that it was a road accident resulting in killing of a girl, Bushra Zaidi, that had changed the city’s political situation drastically. He lamented that no bus project was launched in last 40 years.

Governor Imran Ismail said he was happy to see that his “first mission” had been completed. He said the federal government would provide 100 per cent funding for the bus project.

He regretted that during last 13 years, no bus project was launched for the city.

He said his “second mission” was providing drinking water to the residents of Karachi before the end of his tenure and he was striving for completion of K-IV project.

Federal minister Aminul Haq said the Green Line was the first state-of-art project for Karachi. Fare of the bus would be between Rs20 and Rs40.

He said another demand of Karachiites pertaining to census was also being addressed. He said the federal cabinet in its meeting on Tuesday was expected to take up the census issue and hoped that next general elections in 2023 would be held under new census.

Nadeem Lodhi, CEO, SIDCL, explained to the audience that the buses were based on low entry 18m articulated diesel-hybrid self-charging technology. Theses buses were equipped with modern Intelligent Transport System such as automatic location system, real time passenger information, surveillance cameras and auto-doors.

The buses were designed to offer comfortable modular seats, air-conditioning, digital screens and space for advertisement, he said. They were also designed to cater to people with special needs, would also benefit environment by reducing the use of fossil fuels, limiting emissions and reducing journey time.

Mr Lodhi said post-KPT clearance, the fleet would be transported under the supervision of a Chinese technical team to its new home at the dedicated bus depot in Surjani Town.

KMC tax collection through K-E bills

To a question, the governor and Asad Umar vowed to resist the KMC’s tax collection through K-E bills.

Imran Ismail said conservancy tax was collected in return of services. He wondered as to why the Sindh government or the KMC was collecting conservancy tax when they did not remove garbage and clean nullahs (drains) besides the citizens were deprived of drinking water and health facilities.

“The KMC should address these issues first,” suggested the governor. He said the KMC should improve its tax collection capacity instead of “forcibly” taking tax from the citizens through K-E bills.

Asad Umar asked as to why “all experiments” were being conducted in Karachi and said that ‘this (KMC tax collection through electricity bills) is not acceptable to us”.

The ceremony was also attended by Federal Minister for Ports Ali Zaidi, Special Assistant to the PM on Maritime Mahmood Moulvi, KPT and Pakistan Navy officials and lawmakers of the PTI.

Published in Dawn, September 20th, 2021

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