KARACHI                 -                The Sindh government and Pakistan Railways (PR) have decided to resolve all issues re­lated to the Karachi Circular Railways (KCR), including handing over of the Karachi Urban Transport Company (KUTC) and Right of Way to the provincial government so that the KCR project could be started.

The decision was taken at a meeting be­tween Sindh Chief Minister (CM) Syed Murad Ali Shah and Federal Minister for Railways Shaikh Rasheed Ahmad here at the CM House on Monday.

The meeting was attended by Chief Secre­tary Mumtaz Shah, Adviser to the CM on Le­gal Affairs Murtaza Wahab, PSCM Sajid Jamal Abro, Commissioner Karachi Iftikhar Shal­wani and Secretary Transport Abbas Detho.

The federal minister for railways was assist­ed by Secretary/ Chairman Railways Habib-ur-Rehman Gilani, CEO /Sr. GM Railways Dost Ali Leghari, DS Railways Nisar Memon, DG Planning Railways Syed Mazhar Ali and Addl. General Manager Railways Furrukh Taimoor.

Giving details of the KCR to the railways minister in a chronological order, the chief minister said that on December 3, 2016, he had requested the then prime minister to in­clude KCR under the CPEC framework, issue Sovereign Guarantee for its revitalization, hand over Karachi Urban Transport Compa­ny (KUTC) to the Sindh government and also hand over Right of Way (ROW) to KUTC.

Murad further said that then prime minis­ter Nawaz Sharif accepted all his requests, and formed a committee on the handover of ROW to KUTC, therefore the matter was delayed. He added that revival of the KCR was agreed at the sixth JCC meeting held on Dec 29, 2016 in Beijing.

The chief minister said that ECNEC had ap­proved the completion of the KCR project at the cost of Rs207.6 billion ($1.97 billion) on October 6, 2017 by borrowing loan from Chi­na. The Transport & Mass Transit Dept issued administrative approval of the project on Nov 8, 2017, he informed.

According to the chief minister, the KCR was technically qualified and matured for imple­mentation at the time of 7th JCC meeting held on November 21, 2017.

“At the 8th JCC meeting, held on December 20, 2018, he said, the importance of the KCR was recognized and in the 9th JCC meeting, held in Islamabad on November 6, 2019, the Chinese side stated that the Pakistan Govern­ment should submit the financing request to it. Sindh chief minister said that he had held a meeting with CPEC Authority Chairman Lt Gen Asim Bajwa in Islamabad who had as­sured that the KCR project would be executed in true letter and spirit.

The chief minister said that KUTC, whose 60 percent shares are owned by the federal government and the remaining 40 percent are owned by the provincial government, had not been handed over to the Sindh government as yet so that a consultant be appointed to look into the KCR-related issues.

Agreeing with the CM, Federal Minister for Railways Shaikh Rasheed constituted a com­mittee, to be led by Chief Secretary Mumtaz Shah and Federal Secretary Railways, to fi­nalize the formalities and arrangements for handing over KUTC to the Sindh government within a month. The chief minister said that the KUTC would have to file an application with SECP for change of administration.

Talking about removal of encroachments along the KCR’s route, the chief minister said that out of total 38 kilometers long route, 33 km had been cleared and only five kilome­ters were left. The chief minister said that the remaining portion would also be recovered from the encroachers.

Railways Minister and the chief minister then constituted another committee under Commissioner Karachi, with DS Railways Ka­rachi and other concerned offers as its mem­bers for removal of the remaining encroach­ments along the KCR route. The committee was directed to clear the way within a month and report to the government.

The pending issues include Topography sur­vey and Geotechnical investigation of Section of ML-1. Work on design of the section would start upon completion of the geo-technical in­vestigation and topographic survey, said the chief minister.

The chief minister said that the Conces­sional Financing request was pending in the Economic Affairs Division of the federal gov­ernment, which had to forward it through Embassy of China to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce in Beijing.

He also said that issuance of Sovereign Guarantee was pending with the Finance Divi­sion. “Its issuance should be ensured early for achieving comfort of financial institutions,” the chief minister urged.

Federal Minister for railways assured the chief minister that his ministry would ex­tend maximum cooperation to start the KCR project at the earliest. It was also agreed that those displaced due to the laying of KCR track would be rehabilitated by building their hous­es on railways land, wherever available.

Murad said, “We must make all arrange­ments, including clearance of the right of Way, documentation and relevant paper work by end of the March so that the financial releases of KCR could be negotiated in the forthcoming JCC meeting, scheduled to be held in Beijing in April 2020.

KCR Route: The KCR route is 43.13 km long with 14.95 km at grade and 28.18 km elevated. It would be connected with airport just after completion of the original project. It would have 8.3 km priority section – from Wazir Mansion to Manghopir.

There would be 24 stations, out of which 14 would be elevated, while 10 at-grade and KCR would have a separate yard.