Wednesday December 08, 2021

Sindh govt did not deliver in transport sector, concedes Murtaza Wahab

December 22, 2020

Adviser to the Sindh Chief Minister on Law and Environment Barrister Murtaza Wahab on Monday conceded that the transport sector of Karachi was one such field where the Sindh government could not deliver in the manner it was required.

“I feel sorry as I spoke on this issue several times. The transport is one such field where we couldn’t deliver in the way we were required to deliver,” said Wahab, who is also the spokesperson for the Sindh government, as he responded to a query while addressing a press conference at the Sindh Assembly building.

He, however, at the same time also blamed the federal government for the transport woes of Karachi, saying that despite repeated requests of the provincial government, the Centre did not provide the required support to help resolve the transport issue of the city.

“I do hold the moral courage to the extent that I do accept where I’m at fault as transport is one such problem, which couldn’t be resolved in the manner it was supposed to be resolved,” he remarked. “But at the same time we are required to understand the underlying reasons of this issue.”

He explained that approval from the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) was mandatory if the Sindh government conceived a foreign-funded project to resolve the transport issue of Karachi. The execution of such a foreign-funded project would be delayed automatically if the approval from the Ecnec remained pending for up to one-and-a-half years, he added.

Wahab said the federal government, despite repeated reminders sent by the Sindh government, did not issue the sovereign guarantee for the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) even though the project had been made part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

He maintained that the Sindh chief minister had sent up to 15 letters to the federal government to get support for the KCR’s revival, but to no avail. “With this background, I do have the right to present this aspect of the (transport) issue before the masses of Pakistan and that of Karachi,” Wahab said, adding that the Sindh government alone could not revive the KCR when the federal government did not provide any support in this regard.

The federal government had been wrongly prioritising the project of ML-1 railway track from Karachi to Peshawar over the plan to revive KCR, he said. He explained that the federal government should not be prioritising the ML-1 project when the Joint Cooperation Committee of the CPEC had already declared the KCR a feasible project that was fit for execution.

The law adviser remarked that such an attitude of the federal government showed that it was not at all interested in resolving the issues of Karachi in spite of the fact that Prime Minister Imran Khan had won a seat from the city in the last general elections.

Wahab also lamented that domestic and industrial consumers, and the transport sector of the province had been severely affected due to the prevailing crisis of natural gas. Sindh accounted for up to 68 per cent of the natural gas indigenously produced in the country and the people of the province should not suffer on the account of gas shortfall, he said.

Criticising the federal govnerment’s agenda of privatisation, he said the Center wanted to privatise institutions as it had failed to run them.

Wahab recalled that the prime minister had promised before coming into power to build five million houses in the country. He added that contrary to that promise, the federal government had demolished homes of the poor.

The poor people lost their homes during the present regime while the prime minister himself availed the opportunity to regularise his own residence after paying only Rs1.2 million, the law adviser remarked.