The Yellow Line Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project, meant for providing travel facilities to the citizens of Karachi, has been delayed due to Covid-19 and politically-influenced recruitment.
While the project was supposed to launch this year, the apparent incompetence of the Sindh government has jammed its wheels. Resultantly, construction work on the project has been pushed to the next year, while the completion timeline has been set for three years.
The Yellow Line is part of the Karachi package announced by Prime Minister Imran Khan. However, according to senior officials of the provincial transport department, the project’s inclusion in the Karachi package will make no difference as it is already underway and does not involve any funding from the federal government.
The project entirely belongs to the Sindh government, though the World Bank is providing loans on easy terms for its completion. Sources said that the loan will also be repaid by the provincial government, adding that the total cost of the project will be $438.9 million, of which the World Bank will have a share of $381.9 million, the Sindh government will pay $19.5 million, while private entities will contribute a sum of about $37.5 million to the project.
An official of the provincial transport department, who requested not to be named, said the Sindh Mass Transit Authority was set up four years ago to implement mass transit projects in Karachi, but most of the posts in the company were filled on political grounds, due to which engineers and other staff did not have the required qualifications or competency to implement the mega project.
“Only a few employees have the required qualifications and skills necessary to take the project forward, therefore, they have been burdened with a lot of tasks,” the officer said. “As a result, the work on all major projects has significantly slowed down. Besides, the four-month lockdown due to Covid-19 has also severely affected office affairs.”
Sources also said a detailed design of the Yellow Line BRT project was being prepared, which would be completed in December 2021. The construction work on the project will then start in 2022 and will be completed by 2025.
The Yellow Line covers a distance of 21 kilometres from Dawood Chowrangi to Numaish Chowrangi.
Under the conceptual plan, eight underpasses will be constructed at Murtaza Chowrangi, Singer Chowrangi, Bilal Chowrangi, Vita Chowrangi, Shaan Chowrangi, Brooks Chowrangi, Khayaban-e-Ittehad, Korangi Road intersection, and at the Sunset Boulevard intersection. In addition, the Jam Sadiq Bridge will also be widened.
Meanwhile, the buses for the Yellow Line project will be procured on a public-private partnership basis.
The Express Tribune tried to reach out to the provincial transport minister, Awais Qadir Shah, for comment but he did not receive the call despite repeated attempts.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 2nd, 2020.