KARACHI: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s federal government has showed its willingness to work with the Pakistan Peoples Party-led Sindh government for the sake of Karachi’s transport and water supply challenges, showing hope that the two sides would soon reach agreements on the multi-billion-rupee Green Line and K-IV projects so that these mega schemes could complete without any further delay.
The willingness was showed by senior leadership of the PTI — Federal Minister for Planning and Special Initiative Asad Umer, Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Zaidi and Sindh Governor Imran Ismail — at a press conference here on Wednesday.
They came up with the details of the latest meeting of the Karachi Transformation Committee, which reviewed the progress of ongoing federal-funded projects and planned new ones under the recent allocation of the public-sector development programme (PSDP) funding.
Though the federal representatives tried their best to keep focus of their presser on Karachi’s development projects, they ruled out any possibility of ending their alliance with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan against the backdrop of PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari’s offer to the MQM-P for joining the Sindh government provided it left the PTI-led coalition government at the Centre.
The PTI bigwigs saw “no threat” to the coalition government and observed that the PPP’s offer was part of its “desperate moves” to save the party’s fast declining repute and avoid a complete disaster in Sindh.
Karachi Transformation Committee discusses strengthening of Lyari Expressway and Northern Bypass for heavy traffic
“The centre has done its part for the Green Line project and it only waits for the signing of a facilitation agreement with the Sindh government which would lead to completion of the project within shortest possible time,” said Minister Umer.
“Similarly, over the K-IV project, we all know that there was an objection on its design and on that Nespak has completed its study and submitted the report. Now the Sindh government’s technical committee is reviewing that report. Once they are done with their job, we hope that the project would be re-launched as it is crucial to address growing water needs of Karachi,” he added.
He said the prime minister was “extremely concerned” for Karachi’s development and in every single meeting he asked about the progress of the projects and exchanged ideas that what more steps could be taken for the business and commercial capital of the country.
He came up with a policy statement of the PTI government in the centre about Karachi.
Mr Umer said: “We all know that the politics is the key part of any democratic system. So the politics is a good thing for the system and the society. But when it comes to services to the people and bring facilitation and ease to their lives, we believe that there should be no politics.
“Everyone knows that we have very serious differences with the Sindh government as per our political ideology. But it’s a principled decision that when it comes to the people of Karachi and people of Sindh, we will keep the politics aside and move together for development. The same we expect from the Sindh government.”
Sharing details of the meeting chaired by him to review the pace of the Karachi development package announced by the PTI government soon after coming into power, he said his party stood by its commitments.
He said the federal government was fast releasing its share of funds and taking all measures needed to expedite the same.
“Funds have been released for software and control systems to run the Green Line project,” said Mr Umar while mentioning strengthening of the Lyari Expressway and capacity building of Northern Bypass as two other projects discussed in the meeting.
“We are ready to execute the much-needed water project and are just waiting for the Sindh government’s report. Paucity of funds is an issue but cannot be accepted as any excuse, so the federal government has also established a Public-Private Partnership Authority to streamline private investment for critically-needed development schemes,” he said.
Minister Ali Zaidi referred to steps being taken to address traffic congestion issues as well as sea pollution that had emerged as a serious challenge for the port operations.
The meeting, attended by all stakeholders concerned, was said to had extensively reviewed measures required to strengthen the Lyari Expressway and Northern Bypass with major focus on improving their capacities to accommodate heavy traffic with due provision for a “Freight Corridor” comprising train service to carry freight from Karachi Port to other parts of the country.
The minister said that if the port started handling freight as per its capacity then “there would be a traffic mess as thousands of more container-laden trucks and heavy traffic would add up to city roads for movement of the cargo goods”.
“So we need to move fast for the launch of a railway freight corridor and till its completion, strengthen the Lyari Expressway and Northern Bypass to avoid traffic congestion in the city,” he said.
Published in Dawn, January 2nd, 2020