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ADB approves $235m for Karachi`s Red Line project

By Khaleeq Kiani 2019-07-06
ISLAMABAD: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Friday approved a $235 million loan for Karachi`s bus rapid transit (BRT) project, Red Line.

Thebank announcedthat the loan would support a `transport system with innovative energy and climate resilience features that will enhance access to quality public transport for people in Karachi`.

The Karachi BRT`s Red Line project will deliver a 26.6-kilometre fast-track transport corridor and associated facilities, benefiting around 1.5 million people (about 10pc of Karachi`s population) who live within one-kilometre radius of each Red Line station.

The National Economic Council (NEC) executivecommittee in April had cleared the Rs77.6bn Sindh government project, which is to be financed partly by the ADB.

Targeted for completion in 2021, the project will have 29km corridors including a 2.4km common corridor to connect Municipal Park to Merewether Tower and a dedicated 26.6km corridor from NumaishChowrangi to Malir Halt and Model Colony via University Road.

More than 300,000 passengers per day are expected to travel on the Red Line routes. The ADB will partially administer two $100 million loans from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the French Development Agency to jointly finance the project`s civil works and equipment costs.

`There is a need for a more sustainable, reliable, safe, and gender and envi-ronment-friendly transportation system in a city as dense and rapidly growing as Karachi. A sustainable transportation system will not only solve the city`s mobility issue but also its growing pollution problem,` said David Margonsztern, ADB Principal Urban Development Specialist (Transport) for Central and West Asia. `The BRT system, with its innovative features, will address all these issues, improving the overall quality of life of people in the city.

The project will restructure the entire width of the Red Line corridor, including the construction of 29 stations and dedicated lanes along the 26.6km stretch; improvement of the mixedtraffic roadway with up to six lanes in each direction; inclusion of on-street parking and landscaped green areas in various locations. It will also improve the drainage system to climate-proof corridor; and installation of non-motorised transport infrastructure such as bicycle lanes, improved sidewalks, and energy-efficient streetlights. The project will also establish sustainable BRT operations in Karachi by improving the capacity of relevant transport authorities, designing the BRT business model and subsidy-free operations, implementing a bus industry transition programme, including a fleet scrapping programme and a compensation mechanism.

Under the project, an effective public communications campaign will be developed and the BRT fleet, feeder e-vehicles, intelligent transport system and a biogas plant will be delivered.

The ADB will also administer $37.2 million loan and $11.8 million grant from the Green Climate Fund (GCF).

The GCF grant will finance climate change adaptation measures, including innovative drainage features such as bioswales (landscape elements designed to concentrate or remove debris and pollution out of surface runoff water) and post-project emissions` monitoring activities and feeder e-vehicles.

The GCF loan, meanwhile, will finance the biogas plant and the incremental cost of the transition from basic diesel bus technology to compressed natural gas (CNG) hybrid bus technology, with the biomethane extracted from cattle waste.

The Sindh Mass Transport Authority and TransKarachi Company have been given the responsibility to oversee the project`s construction, security, maintenance and operation. The Sindh government is estimated to provide about Rs15bn. Some other lending agencies are also likely to chip in along the way.

The project will have about 200 buses including 20 buses of nine-metre length, 134 buses of 12 metres length and 18 metre-long 46 buses. The project is estimated to generate more than 2,000 jobs.