KARACHI: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has suggested the federal government to construct the Green Line Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project's phase II from Taj Medical Complex to Municipal Park on the ground level instead of an elevated passage, as decided earlier.
This could help create a common corridor for Red Line, Blue Line and Yellow Line BRTs in the future. The ADB has proposed the construction of a dedicated corridor for the Green Line BRT on the median of MA Jinnah Road, which is one of the busiest roads of the metropolis. Two underpasses have also been proposed at the intersections of MA Jinnah Road with Aga Khan III Road and Doctor Dawoodpota Road, whereas, the intersections of MA Jinnah Road at Capri Cinema and Tibet Centre are to be made signal-free, according to the proposal.
The initial design for the proposed changes has already been presented to the board of governors (BoG) of the Karachi Infrastructure Development Company Limited (KIDCL), the executing authority of the BRT project. Once the board approves it, a detailed design for the project will be prepared.
Work on the Green Line BRT project started in December 2016 and was supposed to be completed in December 2017. However, the project's completion has been delayed due to several factors, including objections raised by the Sindh government and the Quaid-e-Azam Mazar Management Board. The first phase of the BRT, which connects Surjani Town and Gurumandir is in the final stages of completion.
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Since work started on the BRT, its original plan has been amended twice and after the new proposal by the ADB, a third change may lead to further delays in the project.
Reasons for redesigning
KIDCL Finance General Manager Zubair Ahmed Channa told Daily Express that the Quaid-e-Azam Mazar Management Board had raised an objection to the elevated track of the Green Line BRT as it would violate the law, which forbade constructions over the height of 91 feet within the radius of 1.2 kilometres around the mausoleum.
"We changed the design and decided to construct an underpass at Numaish intersection," said Channa. However, when the design of the underpass was finalised and work started, the provincial government asked the KIDCL to amend the design as the Red Line, Yellow Line and Blue Line BRTs were also being planned and they all would merge at the Numaish intersection. The KIDCL accomodated the provincial government's request and issued a new tender accordingly. The KIDCL officer said that work on the modified underpass will start soon.
The KIDCL then approached the ADB, which is its consultant for the project, to propose changes in the design to satisfy all stakeholders.
The ADB has now submitted the new design for the BRT Phase II, Channa said, adding that three technical members of the KIDCL have also approved the design. Now, it will be presented to the BoG, which is scheduled to meet next week, he explained. Once the board has approved the initial design, a detailed design will be prepared and work on the second phase will commence in August and will be targeted to be completed by June 2019, Channa said.
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According to the KIDCL officer, the new design has all the required provisions that will make it possible for the other BRTs to use the same corridor. There are also provisions for a bus bay, parking area and crossing in the new design.
MA Jinnah Road intersections
According to the proposed plan, dual carriageway underpasses will be constructed on the intersections of MA Jinnah Road with Agha Khan III Road and Dr Dawoodpota Road. The intersection on MA Jinnah Road at Capri Cinema and Tibet Centre will be made signal-free.
The traffic from Capri Cinema will flow towards Tower as usual and there will be left turn for commuters to go to Empress Market. However, traffic coming from Garden will not be able to go directly to Empress Market.
There will also be U-turns for both ways over the underpasses. Alternative routes will be provided to commuters during the construction phase.
The large-scale construction on MA Jinnah Road would mean that the road will not be available for commuters, which in turn would create severe traffic chaos in the surrounding area of Saddar. Channa echoed the same thoughts, adding that initiating work on the second phase of Green Line BRT will not be easy.
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MA Jinnah Road is one of the key thoroughfares of the city as it links Saddar, Boulton Market, Civil hospital, City Courts and Karachi Metropolitan Corporation to other areas of the city. Thousands of commuters travel on MA Jinnah Road on a daily basis.
"People are surely going to face short term difficulty during the construction," Channa said. "However, in the long run they will also reap its benefits after the project is completed." Channa also claimed that the first phase of the Green Line BRT between Surjani Town and Gurumandir will be completed by June 30 and handed over to the Sindh government.
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