By Muhammad Luqman
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has inked $235 million loan agreement with Pakistan for for the development of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system in the port city of Karachi.
The board of Manila-based bank had approved in July last.
The Economic Affairs Division secretary Noor Ahmed and ADB country director Xiaohong Yang signed the agreement in the capital Islamabad on Friday. Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Khusro Bakhtyar witnessed the signing ceremony.
The pact will help develop a 26.6 kilometres Red Line BRT corridor and feature innovative energy and climate resilience characteristics “that will enhance access to quality public transport for the city’s inhabitants”.
“The loan signed today will enable a safe, reliable and environmentally friendly mode of transport in Pakistan’s most populous city,” Yang said, adding, “On behalf of ADB, I am pleased to sign this agreement and would like to thank the Government of Sindh for the strong collaboration and continued support in recent years during the preparation of this complex project.”
The ADB director said BRT will make a significant difference to the commuting experience in Karachi, ease congestion and improve the overall quality of life for people in the city.
The project, developed in partnership with the Transport and Mass-Transit Department of the Sindh government, is now all set for fast-track implementation with the start of procurement activities for civil works and the on-going recruitment of the project management and construction supervision team.
“The Project will restructure the entire width of the Red Line BRT corridor, including the construction of 29 stations and dedicated lanes along the 26.6km stretch; improvement of the mixed-traffic roadway with up to six lanes in each direction; inclusion of on-street parking and landscaped green areas in various locations; improvement of the drainage system to climate-proof the corridor; and installation of bicycle lanes, improved sidewalks, and energy-efficient street lights.”
In addition, the ADB will also administer a $100 million loan from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a $100 million loan from Agence Francaise de Developpement (AFD), a $37.2 million loan and a $49 million grant from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to finance climate change adaptation and mitigation measures.
The measures include, according to the statement, the incremental cost of the transition from basic diesel bus technology to compressed natural gas (CNG) hybrid bus technology, and the construction of a biogas plant to produce CNG from cattle waste.
The project, which is expected to save 240,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year, is the first transport-related initiative ever approved by the GCF
“The ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members – 49 from the region,” read the statement.
Pakistan has already developed Bus Rapid Transit , also called the Metro Bus System, in the eastern city of Lahore, capital Islamabad and Multan. These all projects were developed by the previous government of Pakistan Muslim League (N) whose leadership had special penchant for highways , motorways and transport systems.
By Muhammad Luqman