KARACHI: The Sindh cabinet in its meeting held under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah at New Secretariat Wednesday approved amendment in the SPPRA Rule 47(3) to undertake the solicitation process of BRT Blue Line Infrastructure Component in an expeditious manner.

Briefing the cabinet about traffic issues of the city, Sindh Transport Minister Syed Nasir Shah said: “There are 4.137 million vehicles registered in Karachi and currently 6,457 buses of various sizes are plying 192 routes as against the requirement of 10,600 buses.”

The chief minister said that it showed a shortfall of 4,143 buses. He added that in Karachi, there are 45 persons for one bus seat while in Bombay, the ratio is 12 persons per seat and in Hon Kong eight persons per sea. “We have to reduce this gap by providing efficient, comfortable and affordable transport facilities to the people of this megalopolis city of Karachi,” he said.

The transport minister said that the number of contract carriages /buses is 2,715 and 80 percent buses are more than 20 years old. On this, the chief minister said that it means 5400 vehicles are 20 years old and are not only causing travelling problems but contributing to the environmental problems. “This is why I am giving special focus to resolve the transport issues,” he said.

The cabinet was told that 6,078 private vehicles and 22,476 motorcycles were being registered every month leading to more traffic congestion, causing more pollution, increasing traffic density and increasing vehicle operating cost.

Secretary Transport Naveed Awan said that the provincial government had started some Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) projects and work on Abdul Sattar Edhi Orange Line was in progress and simultaneously the chief minister is keen to start Blue Line BRT project. He added that the Transport & Mass Transit Department had received an unsolicited proposal from a consortium of EA Consulting to design, build, finance, operate and transfer of 10.1 km long Blue Line BRT project. There would be a 27-year-concession period which include two years of construction and 25 years of operation and maintenance.

The cabinet discussed the project and in order to undertake the solicitation process in expeditious manner, the cabinet approved an amendment in the SPPRA Rule 47(3) under which pre-qualification exemption has been made. Now, any firm can directly participate in the bidding process.

The Women Development Department brought Sindh Dowry Act 2017 draft in the cabinet for discussion. Under the proposed law, extravagance for dowry, presents and bridal gifts in connection with marriage have been fixed at Rs50,000.

The draft law says that no person shall give or take or abet the giving of taking of dowry exceeding Rs 50,000. No person shall demand directly or indirectly from the family or other relatives of bride any dowry. On this, the chief minister said that the proposed law would be difficult to implement, if passed by the assembly. “We have to make such laws which could be implemented in letter and spirit,” he said and added dowry or extravagance in connection with marriage is a social problem for which they have to educate people of the society. The proposal was also opposed by Industries Minister Manzoor Wassan and P&D Minister Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani. The matter was referred to a committee to make it workable.

Later, talking to media, the Information Minister said that the matter of Rao Anwar was not part of the cabinet; therefore, it was not discussed.

Replying to a question, Shah said that the government did not want to close down the `Footpath School’ but through Sindh Education Foundation MD Nafisa Shah, the chief minister had offered to give a school building to the management of footpath school. He added that the chief minister was worried about the street children receiving education under the open skies on the footpath. “The chief minister has offered to give a luncheon to footpath school students through Selani Trust, stipend/pocket money, text books and copies, uniform, including shoes and socks and a school building under adopt policy so that they could be made secure,” he said and added: “We appreciate the efforts of footpath school, this why we are offering them to be a partner with Sindh government,” he said.