KARACHI: After almost six years of its ground-breaking and having suffered many hiccups over the period incurring almost double the cost, the federal-funded Green Line Bus Rapid Transit Service (BRTS) is all set to offer its services to Karachiites from December 25.

An announcement regarding initiation of the Green Line’s commercial operation was made by a key member of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, who also mentioned that the trial service of the bus would be launched within the next 10 days.

However, the key question about the fare and any subsidy for the people of Karachi on the first-ever federal-funded transport service in the city remained unanswered.

“I conducted a detailed review of the Karachi Green Line project yesterday,” Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar said in a tweet. “This project will be ready for trial operation in the next 10 days. After that Prime Minister Imran Khan will visit Karachi for its launch. Insha Allah, the commercial operation will begin on December 25.”

Cost of federal-funded project has reached Rs35bn

On Sunday, speaking at a party programme in district Central, Asad Umar said that only 10-12 days of work had been left in completion of Green Line following which PM Khan would inaugurate it.

Envisaged and executed in February 2016 by then prime minister Nawaz Sharif, the Green Line project was originally scheduled to complete within a year with an estimated cost of around Rs16.85 billion. However, it took almost six years to complete and the cost reached Rs35bn to finish the project.

It was approved by the Executive Committee of National Economic Council and executed by the Sindh Infra­structure Development Com­pany Limited.

Starting from KESC Powerhouse Chowrangi in Surjani Town, the bus service is to terminate at Merewether Tower via Nagan Chowrangi, North Nazimabad, Nazimabad and Gurumandir, with 21 stations along its route.

A total of 80 buses for the Green Line project had arrived in the city in two consignments, removing the last hurdle in the first-ever Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) for Karachi.

“During the test, the limited number of buses would be plied on the route,” said a source privy to the details of the project. “All 80 buses of the fleet would be tested with rotation. The test operation may last two weeks or so and then a fully fledged operation will be finally launched from December 25.”

Sindh-govt’s Orange Line

However, with the formal commercial launch scheduled for Dec 25, question remains about the effectiveness of the project which was originally supposed to be connected with the Sindh government-funded Orange Line BRTS.

Despite having the shortest route in all five BRTS, the Orange Line is yet to get completed even after five years to its ground-breaking.

Many observers are sceptical about the launch of the Sindh government project as the federal-funded public transport scheme Green Line is set to open its service for Karachiites.

“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, but I am not sure it would be ready by December 25,” said a Sindh government official responding to a question about the possibility of its completion.

He said that one could only make any assessment about the launch of the Orange Line service once the shipment of 20 buses from China arrived in the city.

“The shipment is due in the next couple of weeks. And then other few minor jobs which need to be addressed. So I can’t say whether it will be ready by December 25 or not,” he added.

Published in Dawn, November 29th, 2021

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