There were a lot of things Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had to do in his one-day visit to Karachi. He had several meetings lined up, one of which was at Governor House with a special announcement for the residents of Karachi.
On Thursday, the prime minister announced that they would launch the Metro Bus Project in the city and will have Rs15 billion set aside for it. “We have decided to take over the green line project in the city,” he said. “The metro bus service will start on the same pattern as Lahore.”
The green, yellow and red line projects are part of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridors that have already been announced by the Sindh government. In the current financial budget, the provincial government has also allocated Rs3 billion for the green line corridor that is supposed to start from Surjani Town and go all the way to Merewether Tower.
The prime minister (PM), however, categorically explained that the green line project will be completed with funding as a federal project. He said that he wanted to hurry up and finish work on this 25-kilometre corridor which would ease the traffic congestion in the city.
Officials who were briefing the PM on the BRT corridors said that this was being proposed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the provincial government would work with the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) on it together.
At this point of the meeting, the PM turned to Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah and asked if he would object to the federal government taking over this project. Shah said that he would have no objection and added that the Sindh government was already pursuing the Centre to invest in Karachi.
While addressing those present at the meeting, Sharif said that Karachi was the economic hub of Pakistan and that is why the federal government wanted to focus on its mega schemes. “We will start work on the Lahore-Karachi motorway soon. A total of Rs55 billion have been released to National Highway Authority for this projcct,” he said assuring the chief minister and governor that development funds for the K-IV, SIII and other mega schemes would not be curtailed.
During the meeting the issue of Karachi Circular Railway and Lyari Expressway was also taken up. The federal minister for railways, Khwaja Saad Rafique, and Chief Secretary Sajjad Saleem Hotiana briefed the PM about the railway and expressway projects. The chief secretary informed the premier that they were trying to relocate the people living on part of the expressway that was incomplete. Once, he said, the people were relocated they could start working on it again.
The PM was accompanied by the federal interior minister, Chaudhry Nisar on this trip. They assured Shah and Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad of the federal government’s financial assistance to resolve these issues without any delay.
Nawaz Sharif also held three other meetings, including one on the law and order situation with political parties, members of the business community and law enforcement officers.
The business community asked the PM to hand Karachi over to the armed forces for just six months given the increasing extortion and kidnapping cases. The chief minister defended his government’s efforts and said that a couple of days ago the business community had held a meeting with him and appreciated the Sindh government’s efforts. Source told The Express Tribune that the business community led by Siraj Qasim Teli presented facts and figures on how the industrialists were shifting their industries from Karachi and demanded that if the army can be called into Multan, Islamabad and other cities why can’t it be deployed to Karachi till things got better.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 11th, 2014.