KARACHI: The Sindh government has decided to induct 180 electric buses, powered by solar energy, into the bus rapid transit (BRT) system in order to provide cleaner and efficient transport to public and end the operational subsidy on fuel.

The decision was taken in a meeting between caretaker Sindh Chief Minister retired Justice Maqbool Baqar and an Asian Development Bank (ADB) delegation here on Friday.

The project aims to introduce electric buses on BRT routes. The buses will be integrated with the existing and future lines and will contribute towards long-term sustainability of the overall system.

The CM was assisted by senior bureaucrats including the transport secretary and the chairman of the planning and development (P&D) board.

Buses will be integrated with Green and Orange lines; ADB delegation calls on caretaker CM, says it supports Sindh govt’s project

The transport secretary said that under the project 170-180 electric buses would be inducted into the existing BRT routes of Green and Orange Lines.

“Partial electricity generation through solarisation under a wheeling mechanism could help reduce operating costs targeted to be covered through tariff and non-tariff with no requirement for operational subsidy,” the meeting participants were told.

The chief minister said that the Sindh government was exploring the transformative impact of electric buses to strive for cleaner and more efficient public transportation solutions in Karachi.

“The project aligns with the focus on climate change, resilience, and carbon credits,” he said, adding that the operational business plan of the project was going to commence by the end of this month.

P&D chairman Shakil Mangejo told F. Cleo Kawawaki, the head of the ADB delegation, that the Green and Orange Lines had been implemented in Karachi to facilitate estimated 50,000 passengers per day.

The ADB head said that the bank was working with the provincial government and would support the project.

Recycled water project

Talking about the West Karachi Recycled Water Project, the CM said that Karachi was one of the most water-stressed cities in the world.

“The city requires 1,100 Million Gallons per Day (MGD) of water, but it only receives 550 MGD; therefore more investment in water supply and treatment infrastructure is badly needed,” he said.

The Karachi Water and Sewerage Corporation (KWSC) mandated the ADB to be the transaction adviser on an unsolicited proposal for a treatment plant at Haroonabad near SITE. A market survey shows that the present water demand of industries in SITE is 40-50 MGD. Due to water shortage, the KWSC was only able to supply around 2-3 MGD, the meeting was told.

The meeting discussed a proposal under which a full vertically integrated wastewater treatment system with supply, delivery, and billing was envisaged. It would be the first project to have a recording of carbon emission reduction through technology.

Request for quote (RFQ) for the project has been completed whereas the request for proposal (RFP) is expected to be launched by the first week of December, the meeting was informed.

The director general of the Sindh government’s public-private-partnership unit, Assad Zamin, said that the project would cost around $180 million and prequalification process had been completed and four bidders were competing for the RFP.

He added that the ADB expert team was working on the project documentation with the provincial government.

During a discussion on the TP-IV Wastewater Treatment and Recycling project, it was pointed out that it would address the water shortage. The KWSC is undertaking various wastewater treatment projects, along with recycling water for industrial use.

TP-IV is the biggest project for wastewater treatment in Karachi with a treatment capacity of 120 MGD and is expected to double in future after its successful launch.

Mr Zamin said that the cost of the project would be around $400m, of which the World Bank, ADB and Sindh government would finance $230m, and the remaining amount would be taken as a loan from banks.

At this the ADB visiting head said that ADB would assist the KWSB in finalising the bid evaluation up to signing of the project documents.

Published in Dawn, December 9th, 2023

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