"No modern city can function without modern transport," Prime Minister Imran Khan said.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday formally inaugurated the Green Line Bus Rapid Transit project in Karachi, with the metropolitan’s residents seeing a ray of hope for their notorious public transport woes.
The premier was accompanied by Sindh Governor Imran Ismail, Federal Planning Minister Asad Umar and others.
Imran also visited a bus station, where he inspected the infrastructure and also received a briefing on how the ticketing system works.
Addressing the inauguration ceremony, the premier congratulated Umar and the Sindh Infrastructure Development Company Limited (SIDCL) for pursuing this project with utter determination.
"No modern city can function without modern transport," he said, citing the example of hugely populated Chinese cities with effective public transport facilities.
Terming Karachi "Pakistan's engine of growth," he said the metropolis' prosperity had a positive effect on the entire country.
"Making Karachi functional and successful means we are helping Pakistan," the prime minister remarked, calling the Green Line transport system the first step towards building a modern city.
He regretted that Karachi's transport issues were never paid heed to. "I have been seeing Karachi for 50 years. We have seen its transformation into a cave because we did not focus on its administration.”
Umar thanked the SIDCL and parliamentarians from Karachi for their efforts for the project. He said the Sindh governor was "supervising" the project since the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) came to power. In December 2020, he said, the SIDCL became a part of the planning ministry and the government started working on the project.
The minister recalled that the project had been approved in 2016, and while the PML-N stayed in power for the next 28 months, the project's infrastructure was not built.
"The order for the buses was also not placed and neither was the payment system designed; the operation and maintenance tender was also not placed," he said, adding that the PML-N only thought about building a track surrounded by grills "with no other facilities available."
Work on the Rs16.85 billion federal government-funded bus project had begun after then-prime minister Nawaz Sharif inaugurated it in February 2016 by performing the groundbreaking.
Later, the project was extended by another 10 kilometres as initially sought by the Sindh government and the estimated cost crossed the figure of Rs24b.
The project was estimated to be completed by the end of 2017, but kept getting new deadlines. Since the launch of the scheme, the battered roads on either side of the route have turned into a great source of nuisance for commuters and for the shopkeepers doing their businesses.
The second and final consignment of 40 buses for the Green Line project arrived in the city on Oct.21, raising the number of buses to 80, rekindling citizens’ hope that the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) in the metropolis was set to be launched. It is supposed to facilitate travel of approximately 300,000 passengers daily.
The first batch of 40 buses had arrived in the city on Sept.19 which the planning minister had referred to as a "ray of hope” and "milestone,” calling it the beginning of modern public transport service for Karachiites after a long gap of 40 years.
Addressing the ceremony, prime minister said federal and provincial governments will have to work jointly to address issues of Karachi.
Addressing a press conference in Karachi the premier said the federal and Sindh governments had decided to deal with Karachi's problems "together" following negotiations.
Prime Minister Imran Khan told journalists that there have been positive indicators in the exploration process and the nation would likely be hearing major news on this front within the next three weeks.
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