KCR dates back to 2004, says Info Minister

KARACHI: Sindh Information and Labour Minister, Saeed Ghani, has said that the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) project whose groundbreaking was performed by Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday, dates back to 2004 as the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) completed the feasibility of the KCR in 2006.

Talking to media persons here at the Sindh Assembly building on Monday, Sindh Information Minister said that implementation of the KCR project had remained delayed for one reason or another till 2016. He recalled that Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on 29th July, 2016, had written a letter to the then prime minister for the revival of the KCR.

He said the Sindh CM had approached the federal government and also raised the issue in the relevant meetings held in China so that the KRC’s revival became a part of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor project. He said the groundbreaking of the KCR project had been performed by the PM without any fresh feasibility study as in such a situation he could only pray for the completion of the project that had been launched with much haste.

He said that the present ineligible, inefficient, and selected regime of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf in the last three years had failed to fulfil a single promise the ruling party had made before coming into power. He said the JICA had been assigned the task to conduct the feasibility study of the KCR when the metro rail project of Karachi had been conceived in 2004.

He said initially it had been estimated that the project would cost around the US $ 2.6 billion as the federal government was supposed to share 60 per cent cost while the rest 40 per cent had to be paid by the province. Saeed Ghani said that later the federal government had delayed the issuance of the sovereign guarantee for the project after the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council approved it in 2016.

He recalled that the Sindh CM at that time had written to the then PM while demanding that the federal government should readily provide a sovereign guarantee for the project while the Sindh government should also be handed over the ownership of the Karachi Urban Transport Company that would operate the KCR. The CM also demanded that the same set of concessions should be offered by the federal government for building the KCR as had been earlier given in the case of Orange Line Train in Karachi.

Ghani said that the then PM had agreed in principle to all the demands of the CM regarding the KCR project as he (the PM) had assured to resolve the issue concerning the right-of-way of the project after convening a meeting with the relevant railway authorities. He said that later on the federal government despite granting formal approvals to commence the project, had given preference to the ML-1 Karachi to Peshawar main railway line project instead of launching the work on KCR.

He said at that time China had also accepted that all the formalities had been completed to launch the KCR. He lamented the situation that there had been complete indifference in the past three years of the present government and the last two years of the last regime to start work on the KCR despite that there had been strong follow-up by the Sindh government to implement the project.

He said the Sindh government had, later on, had reserved Rs six billion to revive the KCR after the Supreme Court had given directives to this effect. He disclosed to the media persons that PM Imran Khan on Monday had merely performed the groundbreaking of the project to build flyovers and underpasses along the old route of the KCR service.

He said that at present they didn’t foresee launching the work on the modern KCR service in Karachi in near future. Saeed Ghani said the KCR project would cost around Rs 250 billion as he didn’t know how it would be completed as the federal government would contribute only Rs 15 billion and the Sindh government would provide Rs six billion for the purpose. He said that although the groundbreaking of the project had been performed in a hasty manner even then the Sindh government would provide the fullest support to complete it as had been asked by the PM.