Better wear a gas mask if you live in Karachi


KARACHI – The Sindh government is openly opposing the idea to ply 2,000 environment-friendly CNG buses in Karachi and leave other districts with a shabby transport system.
The Environment Ministry, in collaboration with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), had planned to bring in 2,000 environment-friendly CNG buses for the province; however, federal authorities are trying to use them only on Karachi’s major arteries, sources in the provincial government told Pakistan Today.
Initially, JICA was to provide a loan and the Centre was to give the remaining funds to bring in the buses for all districts of Sindh; however, the Centre later decided that the buses were meant only for Karachi.
The Centre had asked JICA to undertake the study after which the CNG buses would be imported from Japan and JICA mission held a meeting with the representatives of the Sindh government and the City District Government Karachi (CDGK) for conducting a preparatory survey on October 5, 2009.
The CDGK had demanded that the project be named as the Karachi Urban Transport Master Plan (KUTMP); however the JICA mission had disagreed and said that the title should remain ‘Preparatory Survey’, but it was finalised as the Karachi Transportation Improvement Project.
JICA would submit the study report within 20 months of the time it was awarded work to maintain the quality and accuracy of the report.
The study would include persons per trip, future traffic demand, roadside interviews of citizens, transport-related institutions such as the District Regional Transport Authority, travel speed, KUTMP 2030, impact on environment and the estimate of capital for the Rapid Mass Transit Project.
According to JICA, a consultant would not be selected until the PC-II is approved by the Central Development Working Party.
Sources said that the Sindh Transport Department has been sidelined from this project, which the provincial government would not accept at any cost.
Transport department officials have opposed the idea to run all of the 2,000 buses in Karachi alone and depriving other districts of the province from this facility.
The transport department forwarded a letter to the Development additional chief secretary stating that all transport-related projects come under the scope of the Sindh Transport Department, but no role has been provided to it under the draft.
The letter said that the transport department should be made a counterpart agency and a coordinating body for implementation of the study. The department also proposed that the study should not be confined to Karachi only and cover the entire province, naming it as the Sindh Transportation Infrastructure Improvement Project.
Sources within the provincial government said that the federal government should focus on the entire province and not just a single city; the buses should be handed over to the Sindh government so that they could be plied in all 23 districts of the province under the direct supervision of the provincial government.
Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah had recently taken up this issue with President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, who had reportedly assured Shah that these buses would be plied in all districts of the province.