Development work on the second phase of the long-overdue Green Line bus rapid transit (BRT) is set to begin this coming week, according to engineers and officials associated with the project.
Work on the transport megaproject has dragged on for almost five years due to an assortment of reasons, ranging from frequent design changes to differences between the federal and provincial governments.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, engineers working on the project said all construction work on Green Line's Phase II, which stretches from Taj Medical Complex to Municipal Park, would be completed over the next 12 months. According to them, work on the roof of the under-construction Numaish Chowrangi underpass was completed two months ago and traffic is already running over it.
"We are now in the process of installing cat-eyes along the roof of the underpass and this should only take a few days," one of the engineers said. "Traffic will continue to flow unhindered while we complete work on the underpass itself, which should hopefully open by May next year," he added.
According to the engineer, work on Phase II will begin with the construction of rainwater drains along the sidewalks. "This will be followed by work on the footpaths in the middle," he said. "The sidewalks and footpaths will be levelled, so that there is more space to maintain the flow of existing traffic. The dedicated Green Line route will be built on the middle pavement."
The Green Line BRT project was initiated in early 2016 under the supervision of the Sindh Infrastructure Development Company Limited (SIDCL), a federal entity. Original plans envisioned development work would be complete by the end of the following year, but frequent changes in design, tussles between the centre and Sindh authorities, and official lethargy have stalled progress repeatedly.
Although civil works on the scheme has been complete for some time, and work on bus stations and depots is said to be in the final stage, Phase I has taken some three years to reach this point.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, an SIDCL official said the original plans called for building an elevated structure from Gurumandir to Municipal Park. "That was dropped after objections were raised by the Quaid-e-Azam Mazar Management Board and civil society. Instead, it was decided to build an underpass on Numaish Chowrangi," he told The Express Tribune.
"When the tender for construction was awarded at the end of 2017 and the median in front of the KGA ground was excavated, the Sindh government raised objections and argued that the Centre should provide space for the other BRT lines to pass through the same point. The plan changed again, wasting another eight months," the official said. "Finally, work on the underpass started in October 2018, but the coronavirus pandemic cost us another four months."