KARACHI: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday arrived in Karachi on a day-long visit during which he inaugurated the Green Line Bus Rapid Transit service.
The bus service is the first mass transit project in the city despite tall claims by major political parties of doing their best to address Karachi’s problems.
The inauguration was held at the main station of the Green Line project at Numaish Chowrangi. It kick started the first phase of the hybrid bus project under the Karachi Transformation Plan.
Speaking during the inauguration ceremony, the premier said that no city can develop without a modern transportation system.
“No modern city can function without a modern transportation system […] and Karachi is Pakistan’s engine of growth. If Karachi is prosperous, then Pakistan will become prosperous too,” he said.
The premier went on to say that there’s a city like this in every country — London runs the United Kingdom, New York has a major impact on the United States, and Paris has an impact on France.
“So like these cities, if we are helping Karachi to prosper, it means we are helping Pakistan […] building a transportation system is the first step towards building a modern city,” he said.
The prime minister lamented that several governments came and went, but “no one paid attention” to Karachi’s transportation system.
Citing the example of some of the most developed cities of the world, the premier said that those cities were able to progress because they had modern management.
“Until and unless we focus on the management of Karachi, it cannot turn into a modern city,” he said. “Karachi, according to my estimate, does not even generate $30 million in revenue. It is important to give autonomy to Karachi, just like Tehran, London, and New York,” he said.
The prime minister said there was a need to get the mayor directly elected in Karachi and that PTI will do so in Peshawar, Islamabad, and Lahore.
While shedding light on the city’s environmental issues, he said due to the growing population, Karachi has become a very polluted place. He underscored the need for measures to be taken to address the problem.
Karachi Transformation Plan
Moving on to the Karachi Transformation Plan, the prime minister said he was happy to learn the PTI government is living up to its development-related promises and work is underway.
“The cleaning of nullahs, the works on the freight corridor are underway, but I am particularly happy about one project — K-IV — in which I am personally involved and take regular updates from WAPDA chairman,” he said.
PM Imran Khan said during the next month, the groundbreaking ceremony of the K-IV Project would be performed, and in the next 14-15 months, it will be complete.
“In 2023, we will be able to provide water to Karachi from Keenjhar Lake in August or September,” the prime minister said.
Advice to Sindh government
The premier said that the PTI-led government launched health cards, as when a person in a family is sick, and they can’t get that person treated, it becomes a great source of stress for them.
In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, every family has a health card; in Punjab, some districts have it, and in January or March, every family will have it. “Balochistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, and Gilgit-Baltistan are all geared up to roll it out,” the premier said.
The prime minister told the Sindh government to partake in the endeavour and introduce it in the province, so people can benefit from it.
“I would like to urge the Sindh government to cooperate with the Centre in this regard,” he said.
PTI workers stage protest
Meanwhile, prior to the arrival of the premier, some workers of the PTI staged a sit-in protest for not being allowed to attend the launch ceremony. MPA Jamal Siddiqui attempted to appease the angry workers.
The service , with the aim of catering to 135,000 passengers, features 80 hybrid buses.
Each bus has the capacity to accommodate 151 people.
The route, spanning 21km, will pass through 22 stations.
Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar also shared a short video explaining how the operations command and control centre of the service will work.
In an earlier tweet, the minister wrote: “The wait is over.” He added that the project marks the first of five by the federal government which is part of the Karachi transformation plan being delivered. “Great progress on all others.”
“We promised, we are delivering,” he said.
The government of Pakistan shared a list of special features that the service will provide, including a cell phone charging port and priority seats for the elderly and differently-abled.
– Cell phone charging port
– Boarding bridge for special persons
– Sitting for people with special needs
– Separate doors for women, families and men
– Dedicated screens for information and publicity
– Escalators and lifts
– Fire and safety equipment
– Special self disinfectant system (for COVID-19)
– Vehicle location system
‘All mega projects for Karachi will soon complete’
Speaking to media on Thursday after reviewing arrangements for the inauguration ceremony, Umar said that the PML-N did nothing to operationalise the project other than laying the track for the buses.
“No major contribution was made during the PML-N government after the groundbreaking of the project in February 2016,” the minister said, adding the PTI government decided to complete the project in May 2020 on a fast-track basis.
Later, talking to a news channel the minister had said that the operation will start on a trial basis from December 11 to 24, however, commercial operations will start from December 25 and from January 10 onwards, the full-scale operation will begin.
He had said that all mega projects for Karachi promised by Prime Minister Imran Khan are being developed and will soon be completed, adding that 40 BRT buses will be arriving from China in March to facilitate the megacity at the earliest.
Umar had said that the planning ministry has received the revised PC-I for the K-IV project which will be approved in the next one month and fresh contracts will be awarded.
“Through the K-IV project, we aim to supply 260 million gallons of water to Karachi and by August or September 2023, the project will be completed. Work on three Mehmoodabad nullahs is completed and it will be inaugurated in next few days.”
He had added that 50% of work on the other two drains, Orangi and Gujjar, has been completed and they will be inaugurated before summer next year.
Umar had said that the government has plans to build a freight corridor from Kemari Port to Pipri.