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KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah along with his team and the World Bank Country Director Najy Benhassine while reviewing the overall World Bank portfolio agreed to repair Jam Sadiq Bridge and construct a new one as its alternate to meet the requirement of mass transit system and also agreed to reform water board which is overdue.

The meeting was attended by provincial ministers, Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho, Sardar Shah, Mukesh Chawla, Nasir Shah, Jam Khan Shoro, Advisor Law Murtaza Wahab, Advisor Rehabilitation Rasool Bux Chandio, Special Assistant on Investment Qasim Naveed, Special Assistant on Social Protection Haris Gazdar, Chief Secretary Sohail Rajput, Chairman P&D Hassan Naqvi and concerned provincial secretaries.

Jam Sadiq Bridge: It was pointed out that Jam Sadiq Bridge needed to be overhauled/ repaired to meet the requirement of the mass transit system being developed. The meeting also agreed to construct a new bridge as an alternate of the Jam Sadiq Bridge. The chief minister directed P&D department to prepare PC-1 for repair of the existing Jam Sadiq Bridge and plan for the new bridge along with its site.

KWSB: Another matter which came under discussion was reforming Karachi Water & Sewerage Board. The chief minister said that he was trying to make KWSB a self-sustained, highly professional, and efficient organisation under the WB-assisted Water and Sewerage Services Improvement Project, but the desired results have yet to come.

The meeting was told that a headhunting firm has short listed the names of CEO for KWSB and its board would approve/ recommend one of them for appointment shortly.

The chief minister said that he has discovered that the sewerage and water distribution system of the water board is not documented properly. He added that it was in the mind and hearts of some of the senior and now retired engineers, therefore we have to document it and then keep it improving as per requirement of the city. At this the World Bank assured the chief minister that their experts would help the provincial government to document it.

Property Tax: While discussing the Competitive and Liveable City of Karachi Project it was pointed out that the collection of Urban Immovable Property Tax has been handed over to the local councils. The World Bank was told that the property tax collecting staff has been given to the local government department for continuing collection for next two or three years. By that time local councils would train their staff and collect on their own.

Under the project a fresh survey of the properties in the city would be conducted for which survey specialists and other relevant staff were being arranged/ recruited.

BRT Yellow Line: Under this WB-assisted project urban mobility, accessibility and road safety in the city has to be improved through Mass Transit Infrastructure by constructing a 22 km long yellow line BRT corridors, bus ways, stations, terminals and depots. It is Rs53,540 million.

The meeting was told that the acting charge of the PD of the project has been given to MD Sindh Mass Transit Authority, but a separate PD would be appointed shortly. The procurement consultant has joined, and the other staff would be hired through a third party by the end of August 2022.

The Sindh govt and the world bank agreed to start civil work of the BRT Yellow Line from June 2023 and procurement for perimeter boundary would be started in August 2022.

Solar energy project: This project has been launched for Rs12,408 million with the objective to harness renewable energy in the province by providing the deployment of solar power through development of utility-scale 400MW solar power at highly competitive prices with strategically identified solar parks, installation of distributed solar power system on and around public buildings and provision of solar home systems for 200,000 households with no or low access to electricity.

The World Bank team was told that utility scale solar-400 MW component has 20 percent progress, distributed solar at least 20 MW has 80 percent, solar home system of 200,000 households 20 percent and capacity building and technical assistance has 70 percent progress.

The chief minister directed the Energy department to expedite the project.

Education Project: The Sindh government with the assistance of the World Bank is launching a strengthening performance for Inclusive and Responsive Education project for Rs5,400 million. The components of the project include adoption of national school, health and safety protocols, upto 20 students enrolled in multimodal programmes in lagging districts and others. The World Bank team was told that the tenders of different components were in progress.

The meeting also discussed various other projects and set their completion and starting dates.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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