KARACHI: All is set for the much-awaited launch of the enormous Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) as Prime Minister Imran Khan is scheduled to perform the groundbreaking of the project, which is expected to be completed in less than two years and would ferry nearly half-a-million passengers daily, at the cantonment railway station on Monday (today).
Sindh Governor Imran Ismail made this announcement on Sunday and promised that the fresh visit of the prime minister would bring several other “good news” for Karachiites.
“The prime minister will be here tomorrow [Monday] to perform the groundbreaking for the Karachi Circular Railway project,” he said while talking to media persons after attending a ceremony of the Global Ismaili Civic Day here.
Dry run of Green Line buses in 10 days
“The KCR is not alone...many good news are coming for Karachi. Green Line bus services infrastructure has been completed, its buses have reached the city and we have also started the trial run of the buses. We expect to go into a dry run of the service in the next 10 days,” he said.
Commissioned in 1964, the KCR was originally designed to help the employees of Pakistan Railways travel between their workplaces (at and around the City and Cantonment railway stations) and their residences in Karachi’s eastern neighbourhoods.
Governor Ismail says Green Line bus service to be inaugurated next month
The service later turned into a full circle of 44 kilometres in 1970 and connected Karachi’s four main work areas — the port, the Sindh Industrial Trading Estate (SITE), the city’s central commercial areas such as Saddar, and the Landhi Industrial Area.
The KCR remained the means of transportation of choice for the people of Karachi till 1984 when the number of its trains was reduced. Reasons for the move included lack of maintenance and repair, a yawning gap between expenditure rising due to higher fuel and operational costs and revenue decreasing due to subsidised tickets, and the government’s inability to spend money on improvement of tracks and stations. The KCR finally shut down in 1999, forcing thousands of its daily users to travel by buses.
Projects to largely end transport crisis
With the groundbreaking ceremony of the KCR today and expected launch of the Green Line bus service, the federal government sees the transport crisis in Karachi is finding its solution to a large extent.
“The Green Line service would be inaugurated next month and soon after the K-IV [water supply] project would be inaugurated,” said Governor Ismail. “After completion, the K-IV project would cater to the needs of the city and solve the issue of water shortage.”
Earlier, the Sindh governor planted a sapling as part of a tree plantation campaign during the Global Ismaili Civic Day ceremony.
While addressing the ceremony, he lauded the plantation drive saying it was a good initiative and other segments of the society should also follow it.
“A number of saplings are being planted at the same time all over the country as part of the drive,” he said. “I am happy that Ismaili community has followed the vision of the prime minister’s billion tree project. It’s always easy to plant a sapling but it’s obviously difficult to maintain it.”
He said that these initiatives should be encouraged. He also urged other communities to come forward and plant saplings for clean and green Pakistan.
Published in Dawn, September 27th, 2021