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Why is KCR being considered again?

December 22, 2012

THIS is apropos of the report published on Dec 12. It is not understood why the initially ill-designed KCR, which had miserably failed after incurring losses in millions of rupees to the Pakistan Railways long ago, is again being considered for further wasteful investment.

This was proved by the costly World Bank studies, which had recommended it to be closed as it cuts the city’s maximum travel demand lines at right angles, thus incurring double-transfer penalties, which discourages commuters coming from the northern residential areas to city centre destinations along M.A. Jinnah Road up to Tower.

Besides, this all previous state-managed organisations like the KTC and SRTC had to be closed down being wasteful, leading to the high-level decision to allow all such schemes on a BOT basis so as to avoid state subsidies. Even the once efficient Pakistan Railways is now depending on heavy state subsidies.

In view of the above, any expense on reviving the dead KCR will be wasteful. Instead the soft loan being offered by the JICA should be utilised on implementing the first phase of the city’s maximum travel demand corridor: one from Tower to the old Government Jahangir Quarters. At this site, a highrise commercial complex can be constructed.

Similar commercial efforts can be carried out on all open spaces like the KBX station yard at Tower, the Sports Complex and other sites along M.A. Jinnah Road. Besides, space can be obtained by shifting the old Jahangir Quarters to some other location, as was done when the Lyari Expressway was constructed. Places like Jahangir Quarters are gradually turning into slums and are creating serious law and order problems.

Subways can be constructed from Cantt Station, City Station, Saddar and Tower and extended all the way up to North Karachi and Sohrab Goth.

Beyond certain points, the wide central median space could be utilised for planning BRT as was done in Lahore. The abandoned KCR could be easily utilised as Ring Road.

S. M. H. Rizvi Former head of the Rapid Transit Cell & Rail Mass Transit Consultant London