Launched by PMLN government, the long-awaited rapid transit project has been completed by the PTI and is set to commence operations within this month
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday formally inaugurated Karachi’s Green Line Bus Rapid Transit project, stressing that no modern city could function without an efficient modern public transport system.
“Making Karachi functional and successful means we are helping Pakistan,” he said during an address to the inauguration ceremony during which he singled out Planning Minister Asad Umar and the Sindh Infrastructure Development Company Limited (SIDCL) for ensuring the project was completed. This project, he maintained, was the first step toward transforming Karachi into a modern city.
Noting that every major country had a city that served as its economic hub—London in the U.K.; New York in the U.S.; Paris in France—he said Karachi was “Pakistan’s engine of growth” and its prosperity would have a positive effect on the entire country.
Regretting that Karachi’s transport issues had been ignored in the past, he claimed it had been turned “into a cave because we did not focus on its administration.” Citing the example of Tehran, he said that even though the country was under U.S. sanctions, the Iranian capital had modern facilities because of its efficient management. “Tehran collects $500 million [in revenue] and spends it through planning. In comparison, Karachi doesn’t even collect $30 million,” he said, adding that Karachi must be granted autonomy so local governments could succeed.
Summarizing the PTI’s flagship Karachi Transformation Plan, the prime minister claimed it showed that the PTI-led government was living up to its promises for development. “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, adding that the groundbreaking ceremony for the project would be performed this month and it would be completed within 14-15 months.
The K-IV project is a water supply project that has been pending since 2002. It aims to provide 650 million gallons of water daily to the metropolis. “In 2023, we will be able to provide water to Karachi from Kenjhar Lake in August or September,” said Khan. He said he also hoped the Sindh government would follow the example of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab provinces in implementing a health insurance scheme and reiterated calls for the provincial government to reverse its opposition to the federal government’s plan to develop islands near Karachi into real-estate projects.
“Our population is growing. We are building a modern city named Ravi City in Lahore and taking care of the environment there,” he claimed. “Pollution levels are also high in Karachi and it is necessary to have a modern city like the Bundal Island project. When we undertake projects, it is better if we do it collectively with coordination,” he added.
The prime minister also visited a bus station, where he inspected the infrastructure and also received a briefing on how the ticketing system works.
Green Line project
Work on the Rapid Bus Transit project commenced in February 2016 by then-prime minister Nawaz Sharif. Initially budgeted for Rs. 16.85 billion, it was extended by 10 kilometers, raising the estimated cost to Rs. 24 billion.
The project had been estimated to be completed by the end of 2017, it kept being pushed back due to various governmental rifts, with the Sindh government failing to complete its part of the project by securing buses for it. The PTI-led government assumed control earlier this year, raising the number of buses allocated for it to 80 to ply a route of 22km, with 23 stations located every km of road. Thus far, 40 buses have reached the city.
Each bus would have a capacity for 200-250 passengers, with the fare expected to fall between Rs. 20 and Rs. 50.