KARACHI : As the countries around the globe are struggling to fight air pollution, Pakistan weighs launching a zero-emission bio-power transportation fleet of 200 buses in Karachi, Adviser to Prime Minister Imran Khan on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam has said.
Aslam termed the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) network as Pakistan’s first ever zero-emission public transport system, telling the media that the network would help the city avoid pumping over 2.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the air over the next 30 years.
Aslam said that the buses will be powered by cow manure after processing in biogas plants for conversion into fuel. The project will cost an estimated $583.5 million, with the United Nations Green Climate Fund, the Asian Development Bank and the Sindh government as major donors.
The network will consist of a 30-km fully segregated corridor with 25 bus stations, bicycle lanes, bike-sharing facilities and improved pedestrian facilities, Aslam said, adding that the fleet of buses will directly benefit 1.5 million residents and over 320,000 passengers will be served each day.
Ali Tauqeer Sheikh, Managing Director of Leadership for Environment and Development, a policy think tank based in Islamabad, told Xinhua that Pakistan was a large country and has a large economy with an estimated current economic growth rate of 5%.
“The country has a potential to become one of the biggest greenhouse gas emitters if its economic growth rate touches 7% to 8% in future. With the launch of an effective and efficient integrated urban mass transit system for Karachi, Pakistan can prove how economies can grow without being very carbon dependent,” said the expert.
“The project offers an opportunity to move in this direction,” Sheikh said, adding if the project is successfully operated in the coming years, it will serve as a benchmark for at least 50 other medium-sized cities.
He said the government should encourage the use of public transport and discourage the use of private vehicles by introducing clean and comfortable public buses with subsidised fares to control air pollution effectively.
Farzana Yasmin, a senior environmentalist at the Sustainable Development Policy Institute Pakistan, said it is reassuring to see the government of Pakistan taking such an initiative by introducing a carbon-neutral and climate-smart public transport system.
“The environment-friendly initiative will not only be a much-needed addition to the scarce, fragile and outdated public transport system of Karachi but it will also help mitigate the hazardous emissions, improving air quality and public health,” said the expert.