No funds earmarked for Green Line buses, Orange Line completion date extended
KARACHI: Like other sectors, the transport sector also did not receive any new development schemes in the provincial budget for the fiscal year 2018-19 announced on Thursday.
For ongoing schemes of the transport and mass transit department, the Sindh government has allocated Rs6.83 billion in the Annual Development Programme (ADP). In addition to the aforementioned amount, Rs599.7 million will be spent on transport schemes through foreign project assistance.
No allocation was made in the budget for the procurement of buses for the Green Line Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) scheme. The BRT is currently under construction with funds provided by the federal government. However, after the expected completion of the BRT from Surjani Town till Gurumandir in June, the project will be handed over to the provincial government for which it will have to procure buses.
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Commenting on the matter, Transport Secretary Saeed Awan said buses for the Green Line BRT would be procured under public-private partnership mode, which was the reason it was not reflected in the budget. “The operator will bring the buses at his own cost,” he explained.
Meanwhile, the provincial government-funded Orange Line BRT, which is a smaller scheme than the Green Line BRT, will not see the light of day until the end of the next fiscal year, according to the ADP document. It is now expected to be completed in June, 2019.
The Orange Line project, which has been named after late philanthropist Abdul Sattar Edhi, is only 3.9 kilometres (km) long. It starts from Orangi Town’s Municipal Administration Office and ends at the Matric Board Office intersection. This project was first reflected in the ADP of 2014-15 and was supposed to be completed by June, 2017. In the last year’s ADP, its targeted date of completion was mentioned as June, 2018.
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The Red Line BRT is another major transport scheme for Karachi that has been allocated funds in the budget. The estimated cost of the project is Rs277 million. According to the budget documents, the BRT stretches over 31km all the way from Safoora Chowrangi to Tower. It was first included in the ADP of 2015-16 where 85% funds for the project were to be funded by a Chinese loan and 15% by the Sindh government.
In the 2016-17 ADP, the Red Line BRT was divided into three components, which were detailed design, capacity building, and operation and technical assistance. The project was to be partially funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The transport secretary told The Express Tribune that 85% of the project’s expenditure would be borne by the ADB and 15% by the Sindh government.
Apart from this, Rs5.01 billion was earmarked for an integrated intelligence transportation system for Karachi. The budget also allocated funds for the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR), which was reflected in the 2017-18 ADP after a gap of several years. According to the budget documents, fencing along the existing alignment of the KCR would be completed by June 2019 at an estimated cost of Rs230 million.
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In the last budget, Rs241 million was earmarked for the construction of a fence along the existing alignment of the KCR as an ‘unapproved project’ with a completion date of June, 2020. The project was supposed to be jointly funded by the Sindh government and China. The project has now been included in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
Projects like the rehabilitation of a drivers training schools under public-private partnership in Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkur and Larkana, and construction of bus terminals in Thatta, Badin and Kamber-Shahdadkot, which were reflected in the last budget, have also been included in the budget once again.