Sunday Sep 26 2021

Karachi's Orange Line BRT still in limbo after 5 years

  • Sindh govt initiated the Orange Line Project in June 2016 and promised to complete it by 2017.
  • The project has been hit with unnecessary delays and has not been completed despite lapse of 5 years.
  • Sindh transport minister says track has been constructed and provincial govt has provided the funds to the Centre to activate the project.

KARACHI:  In a bid to provide better transportation facilities to the residents of Karachi, the provincial government, on June 10, 2016, launched the Orange Line Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project. But despite a lapse of five years, the project is nowhere near completion, Geo News reported Sunday.

The project was initiated to facilitate about 50,000 residents of Asia's largest slum —Orangi Town — and was dedicated to late philanthropist Abdul Sattar Edhi. However, soon after construction work began, the project started facing several hurdles and was hit with unnecessary delays.

The foundation of the Orange Line BRT was laid by the former chief minister of Sindh, Syed Qaim Ali Shah. At the time of launching it, the provincial government had said that the project would take only one year to complete. However, the government could not live up to its promises. 

When completed, the Orange Line BRT will be 3.9 kilometres in length and will have four bus stations. A total of 18 buses would run under this system, connecting Orangi Town to the Board Office in Karachi. 

The Sindh government had earmarked Rs2 billion for the completion of the project.

Agony of residents

Per the Geo News report, residents of Orangi Town have to face a lot of troubles when it comes to transportation. Speaking to the outlet, a resident named Salahuddin Baba, 70, said that he has to stand at the Board Office bus stop for hours to reach his home in Orangi Town.  

Former prime minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto had allotted 2,500 acres of land for Orangi Town in 1972. Throughout its 13-year rule in the province, the PPP has been unable to provide even two bus services to the area. Therefore, when the 3.9km Orange Line BRT was announced, it served as a ray of hope for the residents of the town. But since the project came to a grinding halt and remained incomplete for the last five years, all hope was lost.

'Centre can activate the project tomorrow': Sindh transport minister 

According to Sindh Transport Minister Awais Qadir Shah, the construction of the Orange Line BRT track has been completed and the Sindh government has already given the funds to the Centre to activate the project.

"If the federal government wants, buses can start running on the Orange line BRT from tomorrow," he said. "The Centre is only talking about [procuring] the buses for the Green Line BRT but it has forgotten that it is also supposed to bring the buses for the Orange Line project in the same shipment."

He said: "It is the responsibility of the Centre to run both the Green and Orange Line BRTs simultaneously. Or maybe they want to pull a political gimmick by running their buses first and deliberately delay the procurement of the Orange Line buses."

It should be noted that the buses for the Green Line BRT have arrived in Karachi and, by the end of this year, citizens will be able to commute via the buses from Surjani Town to Guru Mandir.