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President Zardari Acts to Expedite Karachi’s Red Line BRT Project

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President Asif Ali Zardari has intervened in the delayed completion of Karachi’s Red Line Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project, instructing the Sindh government to address bottlenecks and expedite the project. The ambitious Rs79 billion ADB-funded scheme, spanning 26km and launched in 2022, faces challenges leading to a likely delay beyond the 2025 deadline. Contractors have halted work citing issues like lack of cooperation, red-tapism, land acquisition delays, and cost escalation due to inflation.

The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) has approved an increased budget to accommodate rising construction material costs. TransKarachi, responsible for the project’s implementation, held a meeting to streamline operations following the president’s directives. The revised project cost has surged by 30%, from Rs79bn to Rs103bn, attributed to factors like steel price hikes and delays in utility lines relocation.TransKarachi’s General Manager highlighted challenges faced by all stakeholders contributing to the delay, including increased steel prices and prolonged utility lines shifting. The completion date is now projected for 2026. Sindh Transport Minister emphasized the urgency of resolving obstacles to avoid further delays during a recent review meeting.

The issue was raised with President Zardari by MQM-Pakistan representatives post his election as president. Karachi Mayor acknowledged the project’s importance but expressed concerns over it becoming a burden for Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC), despite being a provincial government venture.

The Red Line BRT project aims to benefit 320,000 passengers daily and includes features like a park, bus depot, and biogas plant. Divided into two parts, Lot-1 involves corridor construction while Lot-2 focuses on depots and infrastructure. The project has faced disruptions since inception, with challenges in contract awards and bid evaluations.

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