The provincial government has directed the contractors to get the construction work of the Orange Line Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project done by May 30. Meanwhile, the buses of the BRT project are expected to reach Karachi’s port by May 11.
The project’s foundation stone was laid in June 2016. Earlier the provincial government had given a deadline of November 2021 to the Sindh Mass Transit Authority (SMTA) and contractors to complete the construction of the Orange Line BRT track, but they failed to meet the deadline.
Sindh Information and Transport Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon paid a visit to the BRT track on Saturday and said the SMTA had been directed to work round the clock to get the civil and electric work of the Orange Line BRT done by the end of this month.
Talking to the media, he said that he had directed SMTA officials to establish their camp office at the Orange Line BRT depot and stay there 24 hours.
He added that he himself would visit the Orange Line BRT track three times a week to monitor the work progress. “The city has a chronic issue of transport,” he said, adding that he had got directions from Pakistan Peoples Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah to get the Orange Line BRT completed by May 30.
He maintained that the former two transport ministers of the PPP, Syed Nasir Hussain Shah and Awais Qadir Shah, had also worked for the improvement of the transport situation in the city.
He said that the party leadership had directed them to get the construction works completed swiftly. As for the construction of the Orange Line BRT, he said they would make sure that the SMTA and contractors got full support from the provincial government. For the security concerns, he said he would speak to the area’s senior superintendent of police and all the contractors would be provided full security.
He said that they would work on all Karachi-related projects on an emergency basis. “It is our mission to resolve the transport-related issues of Karachi,” he said.
The transport minister also announced that he would chair a meeting regarding the construction of the Red Line BRT that would run on University Road.
The Orange Line BRT, he said, had been named after philanthropist Abdul Sattar Edhi. He added that the length of the Orange Line BRT was four kilometres, and it ran from TMA Ground in Orangi Town all the way to the Board Office, where it connected with the Green Line BRT.
The project’s cost has been estimated at Rs4.290 billion. NESPAK is the consultant for the project. The project’s original cost in 2016, when its construction started, was Rs1.14 billion.
The project’s 98 per cent work has been completed. “The Sindh government has completed this project through its own resources,” Memon said, adding that all the funding had been provided by the provincial government.
The federal government-mandated Sindh Infrastructure Development Company Limited is procuring buses for the project for which payment has been done by the provincial government. The minister announced that 20 buses for the BRT would reach the city on May 11.
For one week, he said, there would be testing of the buses on the Orange Line’s segregated track.
Responding to a question, he said former prime minister Iman Khan was in a state of despair these days. He added that there were mega corruption scandals against Khan and he was trying to divert
attention from those scandals by creating chaos in the country. Memon said that the arrogance of Khan had caused irreparable damage to the country. The former premier, he said, should apologise to the nation for his mistakes and prepare himself for the upcoming elections.
He criticised the former PM for asking his party supporters in his political processions to make their disgruntled members of National Assembly a symbol of disgrace. He demanded that the federal government take notice of this.
Memon also visited the Karachi Press Club (KPC) on Saturday where he announced that the remaining 700 council members of the club would be given residential plots by the provincial government.
It was his first visit to the KPC since he recently got the portfolio of the provincial information ministry after he was inducted into the Sindh cabinet.
Memon told the KPC office-bearers that a summary would be sent to the Sindh chief minister for approval of the proposal of alloting residential plots to members of the press club.
He asserted that the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) had the fullest belief in the freedom of press. The Sindh government of the PPP believed that problems of media persons should be resolved on a priority basis and doing so was not like extending any favour to the journalist fraternity, he said.
He remarked that the KPC was a historical press club of Pakistan as it had always been at the forefront of the struggle for the survival and strengthening of democratic order in the country.
Memon claimed that the PPP had never resorted to victimisation against any journalist as it always stood for the welfare and well-being of the journalists, and at the same time, it had opposed the legislation aimed at restricting the freedom of media.
He appealed to different representative associations of the journalists to unite on a single platform after overcoming their mutual differences to speedily get resolved the problems of the media persons.
He recalled on the occasion that journalists had been given residential plots during the regime of late prime minister Benazir Bhutto while Asif Ali Zardari during his tenure as the president continued with the policy.
Answering a question concerning the Charter of Democracy, he said that Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif had both signed the historic document. He explained that the charter did not belong to any particular person or single political party as it stood for the survival and strengthening of democracy in Pakistan.
To another question, the information minister alleged that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had introduced the culture of using abusive language against political opponents and the party wanted to cause anarchy in the country.
He conceded that the hike in the prices of essential products had emerged as a big problem in the country and all the political parties that were part of the present coalition government in the Centre were playing their due role in this regard.
He said the national economy had been left on the verge of bankruptcy due to sheer bad governance by the previous regime of the PTI as all the indicators had been showing that the economic situation had been in a shambles.
To a question related to the transport facilities in the province, Memon said he had been told by Bilawal and the Sindh CM that the transportation issue of Karachi should be resolved on a priority basis.
Answering another question regarding water shortage in the province, he said Sindh had been facing water shortage up to 48 per cent under the water accord of 1991 while Punjab had been facing up to 32 per cent water shortage. He said the Sindh CM had contacted the prime minister in this regard.
Memon said all the PPP wanted was that Sindh should be given its due water share in accordance with the accord and the fulfilment of this demand would not be like extending any undue favour to the province.
He said the Sindh government would also raise the issue of certain areas of the province facing power cuts lasting up to 16 hours a day. He added that the relevant power distribution companies should immediately improve their service.