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KARACHI: Caretaker Sindh Chief Minister, former Justice Maqbool Baqar, added another 80 buses to People’s Bus Service fleet in a simple ceremony. The new buses included 30 hybrid and 50 electric vehicles.

With the addition of 80 new buses, the city’s fleet now comprised 300 buses, including 18 Pink Buses.

He said this while speaking at the inauguration ceremony of adding a fleet of 80 buses in the intra-city People’s Bus Service held at Mazar-e-Quaid. Minister Home Brig Haris Nawaz (retd), Minister Education Dr Rana Hussain, Minister Information Ahmad Shah also present on the occasion.

According to the chief minister, as of mid-2015, there were 3.6 million registered vehicles in Karachi, which is over 30 percent of the national total. Private vehicles, mainly motorcycles and cars, make up about 84 percent of the total number of registered vehicles.

The chief minister further added that the growth rate for private vehicles is over four percent, which means that there are now over 1,000 new vehicles being added to the streets of Karachi each day.

The CM pointed out that there are more than 12,000 public vehicles, including buses, minibuses, and coaches, operating on 267 routes in the city. However, the number of buses has been declining steadily, and as of 2017, less than 5,000 buses were serving fewer than 100 routes.

Owing to the lack of intra-city public transport, the Sindh government and NRTC signed an agreement in October 2021 for the supply, operation, and construction of the Sindh Intra-District People’s Bus Service Project, said the CM.

The Sindh People’s Intra-District Project is a government-to-government (G2G) initiative between the Sindh government and NRTC. It was launched in June 2022 and is the first-ever Intra-City Public Transport Project operating in mixed traffic, especially in Karachi and other cities of Sindh, such as Larkana, Hyderabad, and Sukkur.

The project is basically for the public and is to be operated/run through the public-private partnership. The project is designed to integrate state of the art bus operations model consisting of high-quality diesel hybrid bus service to meet the increasing urban transport demand in Metro Cities and contribute to the development of a sustainable transport system.

Project Current Status: Secretary Transport Asad Zamin while briefing the CM said that currently, 204 buses of 12m and 9m are in operation on 11 routes in Karachi, while six buses are operating in Larkana, 12 in Hyderabad on two routes, and 10 in Sukkur.

Operation of the first Women-Exclusive Public Transport Service is already operating in the city with nine Pink buses on R-01, and another nine Pink buses on R-02. The Pink Buses project is operating successfully and is drawing huge recognition from all the concerned quarters.

In consideration of the fact the provincial government has increased the number of buses, an addition of 30 more buses has been made in the existing fleet.

50 electric buses: The Telephone Industry of Pakistan is a subsidiary of the National Radio Telecommu-nication Corporation already engaged in a flagship project with the Sindh government has submitted a proposal through its international partners to develop an eco-friendly Electric Vehicle System in the province.

The initiative is on the Rent to Own model under which the Sindh government will pay nominal lease payments including the operational and capital costs for eight years, after completion of the lease period (8 years) the buses will be handed over to the provincial government.

The caretaker CM said that Karachi has acute commercial transportation woes and clean transportation was aligned with the policies of the government. He acknowledged that the proposal has been negotiated with sound terms and due diligence.

The CM has directed the Transport department that a robust contractual framework may be worked out with TIP to ensure maximum performance for public benefit. He emphasised that the key performance indicators (KPIs) should ensure proper maintenance of buses throughout the eight years of the buyback period, so handing over of buses at the end of the contract term along with batteries to be in sound working condition.

The caretaker cabinet has approved a pilot project comprising 50 environment-friendly pure electric buses to fulfil the previous commitments to formalise the contractual arrangements.

Earlier, the CM cut the ribbon to inaugurate 30 hybrid and 50 electric buses and then had a ride/tour on one of the launched fleet of buses.

Mayor Karachi Murtaza Wahab and NRTC head Sohaib Shafique also spoke on the occasion.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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