3.8km-long Orange Line still incomplete even after five years

Published October 25, 2021
A worker is installing cable on electric poles (left) as construction material lies at an Orange Line bus station. —Fahim Siddiqi White Star
A worker is installing cable on electric poles (left) as construction material lies at an Orange Line bus station. —Fahim Siddiqi White Star

KARACHI: Despite having shortest route in all five bus rapid transport systems (BRTS), the Orange Line is yet to get completed even after five years since its groundbreaking while many are sceptical about the launch of the Sindh government project as the federal government-funded public transport scheme Green Line is set to open its service for Karachiites next month.

The development work on the Orange Line — which has been renamed after Abdul Sattar Edhi as the Abdul Sattar Edhi Line — has gathered some pace lately.

The project has showed activity when local authorities confirmed that China was supplying 20 buses, which might arrive by the end of this month before the buses go into testing mode for mechanical and safety issues.

Green Line’s next month launch rekindles hopes for early completion of the project

The confirmation from the Chinese authorities for the Orange Line bus service is coincided with the arrival of second and last consignment of Green Line buses from the neighbouring country rekindling Karachiites’ hope that the federal government-funded public transport service in the metropolis is set to be launched.

Work at snail’s pace

“The civil and mechanical works of the project have almost been done,” said a senior official connected with the Orange Line.

“The electrical work and related instalment is in its final phase. We hope that it will be done within a week or two. The major development which came recently is that the prototype fleet of 20 buses is almost ready and the Chinese authorities would soon give us a nod for its shipment after testing its mechanical and safety aspects.”

He said that the 3.8-kilometre-long public transport service with five stations would connect Orangi Town’s main road of Shahra-i-Orangi with Shershah Suri Road in North Nazimabad.

It was planned that the Orange Line would launch its operation with the starting of the Green Line bus service that was almost ready for take-off after arrival of second and final consignment of 40 buses last week raising the total number of buses to 80.

A worker is installing cable on electric poles (left) as construction material lies at an Orange Line bus station.—Fahim Siddiqi White Star
A worker is installing cable on electric poles (left) as construction material lies at an Orange Line bus station.—Fahim Siddiqi White Star

Although the provincial government sounded confident to complete the remaining work on the project at the earliest, many Karachiites are sceptical about the launch of the bus service anytime soon considering their past experiences, the current pace of work on the tracks and its several revised deadlines.

Known as Karachi Breeze, some 112.9-kilimetre long BRT projects are in place for Karachi through five dedicated lines. However, so far only one out of five lines — Green Line — is set to start service next month.

As the wait for Karachiites for the Green Line is likely to over, which is about to complete after more than five years since its groundbreaking in 2016, the Sindh government’s Orange Line is seen second in the line to offer its services.

Other BRTS lines lagging far behind

However, there’s no visible plan for the other three lines — Red, Blue and Yellow — and their fate is not known yet.

The groundbreaking of the Orange Line project was performed by the then Sindh chief minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah in June 2016 four months after the groundbreaking of the Green Line performed by the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

Responding to a question about the possibility of launch of the Orange Line service with the Green Line, the official said the Sindh transport department was closely coordinating with the Sindh Infrastructure Development Company Ltd (SIDCL) — a federal government organisation executing the Green Line project — to complete the work at the earliest and synchronise both the public-transport services at the same time.

“If you look over the tracks [of the Orange Line], there are several works going on at the same time,” he added. “For a layman it may look like a lot of scattered or unplanned exercise, but the fact is that there are several contractors and people engaged with different tasks. The electrical work and other major tasks are almost done. A few jobs of small nature will be completed within the next few weeks.”

Published in Dawn, October 25th, 2021

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