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EditorialGreen light for Green Line?

Green light for Green Line?

Karachi that hosts around 17 million people has finally received its first 40 buses of the Green Line Bus Rapid Transit System (BRT) – just five years late. The project was announced in February 2016 by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) and was scheduled to be finished before the 2018 general elections. However, politicking resulted in extension of deadlines from then ruling PMLN to now Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), which is now responsible to complete the project. And on Sunday, the first fleet was received from China. Addressing the ceremony held to mark their arrival, Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar announced that 40 more buses for the project will reach Karachi next month. “For the first time, we are bringing a modern transport system in Karachi,” said Umar. The buses in the fleet are equipped with Modern Intelligent Transport System, comfortable modular seats, air-conditioning and are also designed to cater to people with special needs. Commuters in the city that currently cling onto overloaded buses that are also often unfit to be on roads can perhaps breathe a sigh of relief. But can they really? If past is any guide, then the question when would the first bus hit the road still lingers in an abyss.
Asad Umar stated that the buses would be up and running in the next two months, while test runs would begin in October. Perhaps, the minister needs to be reminded that just a month ago he had announced that the buses would be operational in October. It is also pertinent to note that the Green Line will only cover one stretch of the city between North Karachi and Merewether Tower, as it is part of the ‘Karachi Breeze’ project that is said to have four different bus lines. But conversations surrounding Karachi’s transport solutions have so far been limited to the BRT. It is unfortunate that a mega city like Karachi has been deprived of a proper mass transit system, among other things, owing to the sheer apathy of the authorities. The first 40 buses also only arrived just two years before the upcoming general elections, clearly notifying where the government’s priorities lay. This is not to say that the arrival of the buses will not provide transport solutions for the city, but it should not stop here. As Umar said, “we are not doing any favour to Karachi but it deserves this.”
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