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May 19, 2019

25-minute trolley ride shows KCR track is in bad shape

Karachi

May 19, 2019

Commissioner Karachi Iftikhar Shallwani, along with DS Railway Karachi Syed Mazhar Ali Shah, visited the alignment of the Karachi Circular Railway’s (KCR) track from City Station all the way till Baldia Town’s station in a rail trolley on Saturday evening.

It was a nine-kilometre area which took around 25 minutes to travel in a trolley, whereas in a car or a public bus, according to commissioner, it could take more than one hour. This correspondent accompanied the commissioner during the ride.

The KCR’s track from the City Station to Baldia was in quite a bad shape — even broken at some portions. After a 10-minute ride, the trolley man had to board off and drag the trolley to cross the broken portion.

There were scores of katchi abadis, shanties and fruit markets just few inches from the railway track. White marbles were strewn across the railway track. The KCR’s track also crossed a few deep sewage and rain drains before reaching the Baldia station.

The track was highly dangerous for the residents of katchi abadis in the surroundings, especially for children, as it wasn’t fenced at all. The trolley man had to shove away children hopping and playing around. There was police and Rangers deployed at certain portions of the track for security.

Addressing a presser after the visit, Shallwani said that there was no encroachment on the track “as such”. On the right of way, he said, the operation was under way and they were cleaning a 50-foot area from the right of way.

In the light of a Supreme Court order, he said, they were carrying out the operation.

Meanwhile, Shah said that the Pakistan Railways administration, the district government and the provincial government, in a joint operation, were clearing the land along the KCR’s track.

On May 9, he said that the orders were issued after which they immediately launched a joint operation.

The apex court had ordered the Pakistan Railways last week to retrieve the land along the tracks of the KCR in 15 days.

Speaking on this, the commissioner explained that as of now there was no encroachment on the track. “We only had the issue with the right of way, for which the operation is underway,” he said.

The city’s one of the oldest flyovers in Nazimabad, Board Office Flyover, was knocked down in 2016 due to the construction of Green Line Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). Under that flyover was a track of the KCR, which doesn’t exist anymore.

On a question regarding that track, Shallwani said that there was a feasibility report of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica), according to which there would be an overhead elevated expressway for the KCR’s track at that spot. “That’s a separate procedure in which the provincial government, the federal government, planning division -- everyone is involved,” he said and added that it could take some time.

According to the court’s judgment, he said that in a month time, they were required to make it functional. For the rehabilitation of people, he said the apex court had given one-year time.

However, when asked how they would be able to run the KCR without having any track in Nazimabad due to the Green Line BRT’s construction; he said that was what the experts needed to decide. “Right now we’re trying to revive the KCR of the 1960s or the 1970s,” he said.

On a question regarding the fencing of the track, Shalwani explained that there was a separate project of the Sindh government for which a tender had already been done. As soon as they got the possession of the right of way, he said, they would start work on fencing.

Explaining the alignment loop of the KCR, Shah said that one of its loops was a 30-kilometre long which started from Tower and went all the way to Nazimabad, North Nazimabad and came at Drigh Road.

The other alignment is the Main Line (ML) 1, which goes from Karachi towards up country. “The operation currently is being done on the first loop of 30 kilometres,” he said. As for the ML1, he said, whatever minimum requirement would be there would be cleaned.

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