President General Pervez Musharraf had taken personal interest into the matter


Jan 03 - 09, 2005



Karachi City's most important and 'top priority rated' Mass Transit Program which could have saved the Mega City and commercial Hub of Pakistan from hundreds of problem other than transport has been put in cold storage for an indefinite period. For the last four to six weeks an invisible but strong force was working against the light train based mass transit project. The said project planning which started years ago had taken its first practical step early last year when City District Government Karachi (CDGK) and the 'China Machinery and Equipment Group' signed an agreement for the construction of Mass Transit Corridor I (One) from Sohrab Goth to MW Tower in order to provide modern mode of transportation to Karachiites who at present having no alternate other than uncontrolled and unchecked private transport system which is in completely mess.

"How can we give undertaking to the Chinese firm for availability of specific number of travelers as the Mass Transit Project was based on Built Operate and Transfer 'BOT'. This is impossible." State Minister for Railways, Ishaq Khakwani said last week at a press conference at City Railway Station while announcing of an independent body, under the title of 'Karachi Urban Transport Corporation' (KUTC), which would revive and run years ago failed to 'Karachi Circular Railway' project. The Minister refused to comment over the issue and said "I am just talking about KUTC and can not talk about Mass Transit Program. He was completely under the grip of Pakistan railway officers briefing and the instruction of his superiors. The journalists covering the press conference were stunned when the minister did not entertained a single question over the plight of Pakistan Railways. This announcement confirmed the doubts regarding invisible forces working against the Mass Transit Project.

"A plunder of Pakistan Railways encroached Land would start now." A senior railway officer commenting over the new plan said requesting for his anonymity. He said that government has created another crisis like situation in order to divert attention of Karachiites from Mass Transit Program. The Karachi Circular Railway and Mass Transit do not match and can not be replaced, as a matter of fact we have to plan for next 25 to 30 years and should not waste time on already failed and scrapped out Railway's project like KCR, said a Senior officer of City District Government Karachi's transport department, adding that we had worked hard on Mass Transit Project and the President General Pervez Musharraf had taken personal interset into the matter as the president was keen to develop Karachi on the modern lines.



Speaking at the press conference the State Minister for Railways after chairing a meeting of Implementation Committee on KCR, formed recently on the directives of Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, he said that the first service of the KCR would start between January 15 to January 20 and a high level dignitary would inaugurate the service. However, he informed newsmen that exact date has not been finalised so far. On December 6, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz formed an Implementation Committee on KCR with State Minister for Railways Ishaq Khakwani as Chairman and Sindh Transport Minister Adil Siddiqui, Nazim Karachi Naimatullah Khan, additional chief secretary (development), a representative of federal government as its members while Ijaz Khilji is the secretary of the committee.

"Initially we will operate this service from City Station to Malir with five tracks and we will rehabilitate the route of KCR by removing encroachments on the tracks," he said. He maintained that around Rs3.5 billion were required for complete revival of the circular railway and the KUTC would generate this huge amount by floating Municipal Bonds. He said that out of Rs3.5 billion the city of Karachi needs Rs1.9 billion for construction of flyovers, underpasses and overhead bridges while Rs1.6 billion is required for tracks rehabilitation, signalling, telecommunication and refurbishment of railway engines and coaches. Besides, he said that in the second phase the railways would link Jinnah International Airport with Drigh Road Railway Station, as throughout the world airports are linked with railways and urban transport.

However, the City Nazim Naimatullah Khan on behalf of the CDGK and Madam Gu Zhengxie from the Chinese Group, Chinese Consul-General Sun Chun Ye, Chinese commercial counsellor, DG Mass Transit Malik Zahirul Islam after signing the first agreement last year highlighted the salient features of the project with an excited press conference, Naimat said as proposed by the Mass Transit Cell of CDGK, the $568-million project will envisage the construction of corridors for overhead mass transit facility from Sohrab Goth to Tin Hatti, 8km, and underground from Tin Hatti to Tower, 7.2km. He said the corridor will be constructed in two stages and the entire scheme will be completed in a period of four-and a-half years. The city Nazim had also told a press conference that the CDGK's Mass Transit Cell had also prepared projects for the construction of five corridors. From Sohrab Goth to Tower is the first one to be followed by from Orangi to Cantt Station, he said. For the first time in Pakistan the under-ground mass transit system is being introduced in the metropolis. He said the US, Malaysian, Chinese and companies of other countries had shown interest in this project, but the Chinese Group has been selected in view of its experience and expertise. According to the project agreement, the 90 per cent of the loan will be arranged by the Chinese Group at 3.5 per cent interest, while the remaining 10 per cent by the city and provincial governments.