KARACHI: Public transport sector in Punjab is getting better by the day with additional Metro Bus already functioning and the rapid progress on Metro Train project, on the other hand the government of Sindh does not seem to be interested in reviving the project of Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) which could help support the collapsing transport sector in the province.
A senior officer from Karachi Urban Transport Corporation (KUTC) requesting not to be named told PPI that KUTC was not being taken into confidence by the Sindh government and KUTC did not know what was going on behind the scene as Sindh government had some recent discussion with the federal government on the KCR project ruling out KUTC, but one thing was clear that no further progress could yet be made on the project due to slackness of the provincial government.
Director Planning and Coordination Karachi Mass Transit Cell Fazal Karim Khatri said there was no more suitable option than Japanese International Co-operation Agency (JICA) as it had very low rate of loan refund and it had been yet working extensively on the project, but if it withdraws from the project then other options for the revival of KCR would be considered which may further delay the already lingering project.
“The federal government has demanded a timeline from JICA that is reluctant over the issue of encroachments on KCR lands and a non-binding MoU signed by the Sindh government with a Chinese firm,” he said.
Khatri said Punjab transport sector-like seriousness was required at high level to bring the KCR project on tracks.
He said had KCR been running in any condition, the trouble of encroachments would not have aroused around the tracks.
He admitted that circular railway could still be run without the prescribed advanced technology with old locomotives to reduce the congestion and provide ease to the citizens until the advanced technology arrives in the country. He said even if the old local trains on run on the existing KCR loop it would be great relief to the commuters of Karachi.
Parliamentary Secretary for Railways Syed Mohammad Ashiq Hussain Shah has recently said that the construction work of KCR project could not be started as JICA was reluctant to invest on the project because of delay (from the federal and provincial government).
He said that Ministry of Railways does not agree with JICA’s proposal of re-settlement action plan for encroachers, however instead of re-settlement the ministry wanted to give the cash compensation.
Secretary Sindh Transport Department did not comment when asked why the revival of KCR project was not on the Sindh government’s priority.