KARACHI: Civil society has raised objections to the Rs24.6 billion federally-funded Green Line Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) extended elevated portion on MA Jinnah Road.
These reservations were revealed during a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah at CM House on Monday. The meeting was attended by Transport Minister Syed Nasir Shah, project director and principal secretary to the governor Sualeh Farooqi, Principal Secretary to the CM Sohail Rajput, Transport Secretary Raheem Soomro, Mass Transit Authority (MTA) Director-General Mohamad Athar, Karachi Infrastructure Development Company Ltd (KIDCL) Chief Financial Officer Zubair Channa and the chief engineer of the Green Line project, Nisar Sario.
Farooqui said that KIDCL has completed 60% of the infrastructure work up to Gurumandir, as per the original scope of the Green Line BRTS and is prepared to complete the first phase of the project by the end of December.
Originally, the project was 18.4 kilometres-long from Surjani Town to Gurumandir. It has now been extended to Muncipal Park on MA Jinnah Road and its cost has increased from Rs16 billion to Rs24.6 billion.
Farooqui said that as per the Sindh government’s approved alignment and the route of the project, an underpass would be constructed at the Numaish Roundabout. It would converge into an elevated BRTS portion short of the Taj Complex Signal and up to Municipal Park area near Jamia Cloth Market. The project director added that an elevated turnaround rotary has been proposed and designed for construction at Municipal Park, which would facilitate 19.2 metre articulated buses to turn back towards Surjani Town.
Urban planner Professor Arif Hassan and Professor Nauman, who were present at the meeting, said that civil society has raised objections to the construction of the elevated portion of the project, as it would obstruct the view of the Quaid’s mausoleum from either side of the road. The chief minister was also told that KIDCL has halted the bid process for the construction of the elevated portion of the project.
Athar said that the decision to construct the elevated BRTS portion on MA Jinnah Road was made by the Sindh government and was communicated to KIDCL. He added that the decision was made by the transport department after thorough deliberations and discussions on all alternative options in the interest of the Green Line project.
Murad said that the construction of the elevated portion was the only option. “Since civil society has raised objections, I would suggest you [MTA and KIDCL] prepare a detailed drawing of the project so that the final decision could be made,” he said.
Green Line project
The first phase of the Green Line BRTS project would be completed by the end of December. Operation and maintenance of the project would be managed by the MTA, while the procurement of articulated buses and engaging BRTS operators will also fall under the MTA’s domain. For this purpose, the CM has already issued directives to the transport department to take necessary measures.
Farooqui told the CM that KIDCL and the ministry of communication have engaged a German-based consultant to design a state-of-the-art system for the operation and maintenance of the Integrated Transport System, which would not only cater to the needs of the Orange and Green Line BRTS but would also serve as single platform to cater to the needs of all future BRTS lines, as well as the circular railway.