PR poised to start spadework on abandoned KCR

Karachi: Pakistan Railways is fully committed to repair and run the abandoned surface rail urban transport project of Karachi Circular Railway utilizing its own resources and making a viable business plant to operate it sound commercial so that on one hand it could help in mitigating the sufferings of millions of Karachi commuter and on the other provide the Pakistan Railway a good operating profit. Spadework on repair of the abandoned track is expected in next five months.

Encroachments patronized by political backed land mafias have been considered the major hurdle in revival of the KCR, but now the railway ministry has allocated 250 acres of land to shift all encroachments from the route of KCR and settle the squatters on this land. In this regard the National Assembly Committee on Railways has been officially informed that the land has already been made available for early start of the KCR repair and renovation.

Though the Sindh government is still undecided whether to adopt the KCR or continue to betray it, and the Karachi Urban Transport Corporation (KUTC) despite spending millions of rupees of the taxpayers of Sindh on its army of officers and employees has done nothing concrete for the revival of the KCR and proved itself yet another white elephant of Sindh treasury, the Pakistan Railways under its visionary minister Khawaja Saad Rafique has been working silently and seriously on the revival of KCR. Insiders say the revival of KCR would be a gift for Karachiites by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and it would certainly help in improving the image of the party in Sindh including Karachi.

Railway engineers and experts are of the opinion that the rulers wasted decades of Karachi on the lollipop of modernizing the KCR with the loans of JICA; however, all the KCR needed repair of its abandoned tracks, signal system, local trains stations and assigning a dozen of old locomotives that are unfit for long hauls and sufficient rolling stock. At this stage this is all that is needed for making the KCR stand on its two feet. In future the KCR could be modernized and even made a metro or tube rail if the required funds are available. Presently, old local trains could also be sufficient to facilitate millions of Karachi commuters.

The experts further say if the engineers and technicians are given the green signal the repair and running of the KCR successfully is a matter of just two months. It would not only further improve the leadership image of Khawaja Saad Rafique and his party but also help Karachi being a respectable urban city in terms of public transport.

The sources said spade work on the KCR revival could be started in March 20016 and local trains would run on it by June 20016, provided the provincial government of Sindh and its white elephant Karachi Urban Transport Corporation (KUTC) did not create some hurdles in this vital project for Karachi.

Though there is no dearth of lip-service by the Sindh rulers for the cause of urban transport system of Karachi including the KCR and even in the budget for the year 2015-16, they have promised revival of the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR), besides five bus transit, two metro rail transit for the mega city, but like previous years the Sindh government has yet to take a solid step for the revival of the KCR. It just waits for the Japanese or Chinese costly loans to initiate work on the KCR. The problem of the foreign funded projects is that they are the vehicle to purchase discarded foreign technologies on very high rates. For example, for a dual track of 43.3 km with 24 stations at an average distance of 1.5 km, the estimated cost of the project funded through the foreign loans is US $ 2.6 billion, which is too high and unbearable burden on taxpayers’ money as these loans would have to be paid by the people of this country. It is necessary that this attractive foreign loan trap is avoided in revival of the KCR and instead repair and run it with indigenous resources and available technology with the Pakistan Railways.