KARACHI: For the purpose of planning, coordinating, constructing, developing and monitoring the 'mass transit systems' in the province, the Sindh Assembly passed on Thursday the 'Sindh Mass Transit Authority Bill'.
Moving the bill, Transport Minister Nasir Shah said that this law will provide safe, efficient, comfortable, sustainable and reliable forms of mass transit system. "For the last many years, no efforts have been made to develop the transport system in Sindh, so this law is expedient to establish the Sindh Mass Transit Authority," said the transport minister while talking about the objectives of the bill.
Initially, this bill was tabled in the house around two years ago by the government but it was referred to the standing committee on transport for feedback. Since 2014, the standing committee members had been disputing over its name. Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) members proposed that the name should be 'Karachi Mass Transit Authority'. However, the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) members were of the view that the law should be implemented in the entire province and, hence, suggested that it be named the 'Sindh Mass Transit Authority'.
The law says that the management and administration of the authority will exercise all the powers and provincial transport minister will be the chairperson of its board. Meanwhile, mayors of Karachi, Hyderabad and Sukkur will be members/co-chairpersons and transport secretary, finance secretary or his nominee, planning and development secretary, Public Private Partnership director-general, Military Land and Cantonment director, traffic DIG and a representative of the Pakistan Engineering Council will be members of the board.
The law further says that the government may, by notification, transfer the ownership of any road, station, depot, corridor, rail track or any ancillary facilities or structure to the authority for the purpose of carrying out the objective under this act. "The existing properties and assets of the government pertaining solely to the mass transit system will be transferred to authority," says the law, adding that the authority, however, cannot sell the property without the permission in writing of the provincial government. The authority will formulate policies and carry out matters pertaining to schemes, projects and mass transit system.
"This authority will implement various transport routes, control plan, maintain, monitor, develop, coordinate, implement, operate and regulate the mass transit systems along with all land [and] infrastructure, including stations, depots, terminations, roads, paths, bridges [and] buildings," says the law, adding that the authority will also conduct studies, surveys and technical research with respect to the mass transit system .
All on board
Members of all the political parties appreciated the law and demanded of the government to start this system in Sindh without any delay.
Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah said that the authority will cover the entire province. "Sindh Road Transport Corporation was closed in 1999 and Karachi Transport Corporation was winded up in 1997 by the then governments, which was a wrong decision," said the CM. "We are now planning to modernise this system in order to provide the best facilities to commuters."
During the debate, most of the members demanded that the Karachi Circular railway project be revived. Responding to them, the transport minister said that they have done all the home work but there was delay on part of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to start work on this project. "We are looking forward to other companies and hope this project will also be started," he said, adding that intercity bus will soon be started from Karachi to other cities of Sindh.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 30th, 2016.
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