Sindh Information and Transport Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon has directed the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) and District Metropolitan Corporations to clear all the hurdles and encroachments and complete the repair work along the routes of the intra-city Peoples Bus Service.
The Sindh government would launch the project in the last week of May under any circumstances, he said while presiding over a meeting on the bus service project on Friday at the Sindh Mass Transit Authority’s (SMTA) office.
The meeting decided that in the first phase of the project, buses would start running on two routes of Karachi and the project would be inaugurated by Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Sindh Chief Minister Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah.
Local Government Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah, Labour Minister Saeed Ghani and KMC Administrator Barrister Murtaza Wahab were also present on the occasion along with relevant bureaucrats and officers.
Memon said the National Radio Transmission Company (NRTC) had conducted a detailed survey on the proposed seven routes of the bus service and identified the obstacles along with suggesting repair of the routes.
He added that the district administration, KMC, DMC's and traffic police should remove all the identified hurdles. He stressed the need for close coordination among departments saying that no excuse or shifting of responsibility on each other should be heard.
He suggested that separate teams of the KMC and DMCs be formed to start work on the routes in coordination with the SMTA and NRTC. The transport minister said he and Wahab had visited the Route No.1 of the bus service on Sharea Faisal and inspected the locations for bus stops. He ordered to make space on the thoroughfare for setting up bus stops to prevent accidents and unnecessary traffic jams on the main artery of the city.
He directed the traffic DIG to mark the road according to the width of the buses and prepare traffic management plan for the service. Memon was of the view that the interest of the residents of Karachi had increased in the project since the arrival of the first fleet of buses.
The transport minister said the bus stops should be built on modern lines and they must look attractive. SMTA Managing Director Capt (retd) Altaf Hussain Sario and NRTC Project Director Sohaib Shafiq gave a detailed briefing on the project routes, issues and obstacles at the meeting.
Memon also addressed a reception given by the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) at the Karachi Press Club. He said that Imran Khan's government had suppressed freedom of expression and left no stone unturned to harm journalists and the media.
Journalists who did not support Imran’s stance were tortured and many renowned anchor persons lost their jobs during the previous regime, he said. He opined that if Khan’s government had continued, media persons would have been tortured more and subjected to punishment of lashes like during the regime of military dictator Ziaul Haq.
The rulers were bound to tolerate criticism, Memon said. He added that however, only democratically elected rulers had the courage to tolerate criticism. The information minister said the PPP had been subjected to unilateral criticism by the media in the past, but the party never adopted an authoritarian attitude against the media.
He asserted that when Asif Ali Zardari was the president, no political opponent of the PPP was sent to jail. The PPP had always supported independence of media and participated in the journalists’ movements, he maintained.
He said the PPP had always taken measures to improve the quality of life of media workers. He told the PFUJ members that the Sindh government would implement their recommendations to create a conducive working environment for the media workers.
He said that support would also be sought from the coalition government in the Centre to resolve the issues of journalists. Memon urged the various factions of the journalist organisations to unite on a single platform and asked senior journalists to play their role for unification of journalist bodies.
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