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January 4, 2020

CM Sindh Murad Ali Shah orders Orange Line’s completion in four months

Karachi

January 4, 2020

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has directed the provincial transport department to complete the construction of Orange Line Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project’s track within next four months and start preparations to issue the tender for starting work on the Red Line (BRT) as he wants to perform its groundbreaking ceremony on August 14 this year.

Named after philanthropist Abdul Sattar Edhi, the Orange Line BRT is mere 3.9 kilometres long, connecting Orangi Town’s Town Municipal Administration (TMA) ground with the Board Office in Nazimabad. Its construction that started in 2016 is still going on.

The other BRT, Red Line, has been proposed to connect Model Colony with Mazar-e-Quaid. The CM issued the directives regarding the two projects on Friday as he presided over a meeting to review their progress at the CM House.

The meeting was attended by Sindh Transport Minister Awais Qadir Shah, Local Government Minister Nasir Hussain Shah, Adviser to the CM on Law and Environment Murtaza Wahab, Acting Chief Secretary Mohammad Waseem, Principal Secretary to the CM Sajid Jamal Abro, Local Government Secretary Roshan Shaikh, Transport Secretary Abbas Detho and others.

Briefing the CM, the transport minister said the ongoing work on Orange Line project was almost in its final stages. To this, the CM directed him to complete it within the next four months and in the meantime start the procedure for the procurement of at least 25 buses for the BRT project.

“I want best buses to be procured whether they may have the seating capacity of 40 passengers and 80 standing passengers or more long buses with the double capacity,” he said and directed the transport minister to work out final proposals for the buses’ procurement.

In spite of the fact that the Orange Line BRT track’s length is less than four kilometres, the project has faced extraordinary delay. Officials of the provincial government blame the presence of unmarked underground utility infrastructure such as water, sewerage, power, telephone and gas lines for the delay. The same issue, however, was faced by the Karachi Infrastructure Development Company during the construction of the Green Line track, which is over five times larger in length, but the SIDCL still managed to get Green Line’s route completed.

Earlier this week, an official of the Sindh Mass Transit Authority (SMTA), on condition of anonymity, told The News that the cost of the project increased manifold due to “unprecedented delays in the project”.

Green Line

The CM also advised Awais to talk to the Green Line project’s management or the federal government so that buses of similar look and identical capacity could be purchased for the Green Line BRT.

The CM said that he had already approved Rs962 million for the construction of an underpass with a mezzanine floor at Numaish Chowrangi as part of the Green Line. The finance department has referred the matter to a sub-committee of the cabinet which would submit its report for the release of the amount.

To a query, Murad was told that the land for the Green Line bus depot in Surjani Town had been transferred in the name of the project and the local government department would issue a notification in this regard by Monday.

The CM further directed the transport department to enter into a facilitation and implementation agreement with the Green Line project’s management to make it functional. The Green Line BRT is supposed to be operated by the federal government for three years and then it would be transferred to the Sindh government.

Murad asked the transport department to make arrangements for the shifting of a truck stand from Mauripur to the Northern Bypass and get 100 acres of land transferred from the Board of Revenue for the construction of an inter-city bus terminal on the Super Highway.

Biogas plant

As the Sindh government has announced that it will run the buses of the Red Line BRT with biogas, the meeting on Friday also discussed the matter of land acquisition for a biogas plant in Bhains Colony.

The CM said the construction of the biogas plant in Bhains Colony would be the most feasible option because the transport of cattle dung for the generation of biogas would be easier there. The local government minister said that the land in question belonged to the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation and he would talk to the mayor to get the 40-acre land for the plant.

The CM was informed that the tender document for the Red Line project was ready and would be floated within a month, and an advertisement had been issued for the appointment of a supervisory consultant for the project.

Murad told the transport department that he would perform the groundbreaking of the Red Line project on August 14, 2020. “Therefore, the transport department has to expedite all the pending works accordingly.”

The Red Line BRT was first reflected in the Sindh government’s Annual Development Program (ADP) of 2015-16, in which 85 per cent of funds for the project were to be funded by a Chinese loan and 15 per cent by the provincial government.

However, things changed and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) was involved in the project. According to the 2016-17 ADP, the Red Line BRT was to be partially funded by the ADB.

As of now, the Sindh government is boasting of the claim that the Red Line BRT project will be the first-ever transport system in Pakistan to use biomethane produced from animal waste as a fuel resource for its fleet of 213 buses. Separate consultants have been hired for the three tasks of the operational design, detailed design, and institutional development and capacity building of the project.

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