Sindh govt resumes electric bus service in Karachi after replacing faulty charging system

Published July 10, 2023
Sindh Information, Trans­port, and Mass Transit Minister Sharjeel Inam addresses a press conference in Karachi on Sunday. — DawnNewsTV
Sindh Information, Trans­port, and Mass Transit Minister Sharjeel Inam addresses a press conference in Karachi on Sunday. — DawnNewsTV

• Operation of 15 buses remained suspended for two months after chargers developed fault
• New fleet of diesel buses to reach Karachi today, Sharjeel announces
• Says work on Dhabji Special Economic Zone to start on 15th

KARACHI: After remaining stationary for almost two months just after their launch in April 2023, the electric buses are set to resume operations on two city routes on Monday following import of a new charging system from China as the earlier system had started ‘malfunctioning’ within a few weeks of start of the service.

Sindh Information, Trans­port, and Mass Transit Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon announced this on Sunday while addressing a press conference to inform the public about arrival of the new charging system that would help resume the operation of 15 electric buses.

Sources privy to the situation said the service of electric buses on two routes was stopped almost two months ago after the charger being used for recharging the batteries had ‘started malfunctioning’.

“The chargers for electric buses have arrived, and starting from tomorrow, these buses will once again operate on the roads of Karachi,” said the Sindh transport minister.

“The Sindh government is consistently taking measures to provide optimal travel facilities to its citizens, and in this regard, another fleet of buses will arrive in Karachi tomorrow. As per the instructions of [PPP] chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Chief Minister of Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah, the Sindh government is committed to expanding the number of buses in order to enhance urban travel facilities. Under the same initiative, the new buses will be replacing the older ones very soon.”

New diesel buses

He also announced arrival of a fleet of new diesel buses on Monday which would be run under the Peoples Bus Service programme.

The Sindh government under the Peoples Bus Service programme imported 15 electric vehicles and launched its two routes in April with one ferrying passengers from Model Colony to Seaview and another shuttling between Bahria Town and Malir Halt. However, the initiative suffered a blow when the charging system started problems.

Although as a backup arrangement, the Sindh government moved some diesel buses on the two routes to keep the service running, it took the authorities almost two months to resolve the matter with the import of a new system.

“Actually there’s a voltage fluctuation problem which led to the collapse of the software system of the electric chargers,” said a source aware of the whole situation.

“Several attempts by local experts and even from China were made, but they couldn’t lead to any success. Finally it was decided to import a new system. All 15 buses in the meantime were lying idle at the depot.”

Mr Memon also mentioned a bus monitoring app, which he claimed, has made peoples’ lives much easier in this era of inflation.

Dhabeji Special Economic Zone

“The Sindh government has undertaken significant work in mega projects and the Dhabji Special Economic Zone is commencing operation, which will create numerous investment and employment opportunities,” the minister announced at the press conference.

“Investors are being facilitated through a streamlined one-window operation process. There is a likelihood of establishing an electric bus plant in Sindh.”

During the press conference, Syed Qasim Naveed Qamar, the Special Assistant to the Chief Minister Sindh for Investment and Public-Private Partnership Unit, emphasised the importance of creating a business-friendly environment for investors.

He said that the Sindh government was trying to develop the Dhabeji Special Economic Zone and the work would commence on July 15.

He said the zone offered a tax holiday for a period of 10 years.

“The establishment of the economic zone is expected to generate increased employment opportunities and contribute to economic growth.”

He said the zone was a part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project and was being constructed under public-private partnership.

“The Sindh government has provided land for the zone, while the responsibility of its development lies with the designated developer.”

He said that the economic zone spanned 1,500 acres was strategically located in close proximity to Port Qasim, Karachi Airport, and the main railway track.

Considering its advantageous location and promising prospects, he expressed the hope that the economic zone would emerge as the most successful economic zone in the country.

The information minister announced that the Sindh government was planning to hold an investment conference in the province soon.

The purpose of this conference is to showcase the natural resources in Sindh to the world and attract investment.

He said investors from all around the world will participate in the conference.

Published in Dawn, July 10th, 2023

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