KARACHI                 -            Sindh’s government’s rampant negligence towards infrastructure problems of Karachi and the persisting state of disrepair in various parts of the city drew Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Gulzar Ahmed’s ire here on Friday.

The CJP’s remarks came as a Supreme Court bench heard the case regarding revival of Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) at its Karachi registry. Justice Gulzar Ahmed presided over the bench. The advocate general Sindh, the attorney general, the chief secretary Sindh and the railways secretary, among others, were present for the hearing. During the proceedings, the advocate general presented a copy of the Karachi Master Plan for the court’s review.

Sindh AG informed the court that Green Line Bus Rapid Transit project and Orange Line have been completed, while remaining projects are under construction. “The World Bank and the Asian Development Bank are providing funding for these projects,” he stated before the court.

“The work should reflect the plans and maps you have handed over to us,” the chief justice said as it was clear he was not satisfied with the project’s scope. “This isn’t a forward-looking transport plan. Seemingly, you just wanted to spend money, distribute funds,” the chief justice remarked.

“We should shut these projects down if that is so,” the advocate general made an offer reacting to which the CJP said, “It doesn’t seem like you understand what we’re saying.”

The officials, defending the time it took to complete the project, told the court that work on the Green Line had kicked off three years ago, highlighting that the project stretched from Surjani Town to Numaish.

“You could have laid roads over all of Asia in three years,” Justice Gulzar retorted and asked, “You had the money and the people: why wasn’t the project wrapped up within a year?”

Speaking about the Orange Line project, the advocate general promised that the service would be made operational by next year. “Why not next month?” the chief justice asked. “It seems as if you do not pay the contractors. Go to Nazimabad, it seems like no work is being done [on the project] there,” he said.

“The parties [responsible for the project] keep changing all the time. You keep showing us these wonderful visions of the future and have turned the lives [of people living in those areas] into a living hell meanwhile,” Justice Gulzar said. “You’re fiddling as people die.”

“The Qingqi [rickshaws] have started running on the streets again. They’ll turn all your transport projects to dust,” he noted. “There’s hundreds of thousands of motorcycles on the streets.”

“University Road is a big joke; Shaheed-e-Millat Road used to be a sight once upon a time.”

“We are working. The Green Line and the Orange Line will be made operational soon,” the AG Sindh promised and claimed the Red Line will be made operational by August 14.

“And what about the Blue and Purple Lines?” asked the chief justice as the AG responded by saying, “We are not working on those at the moment.” The CJP said, “It seemed you all do not work till someone stands bearing a stick over your head. Please work for the country.”

We want KCR revived at all costs

Different options for the revival of KCR were proposed, and the chief justice was told that 14 of the total 24 sections of the circular railway were presenting problems for the planners.

“It is not possible for us to remove encroachments on these 14 sections,” the Sindh government’s representatives pleaded. “We can make elevated tracks through these sections instead,” they suggested.

“If we stick to the 1995 plan for the circular railway, we will have to uproot a large part of the city. The Green Line and Orange Line projects will both have to be abandoned,” they warned.

“The court should accommodate the Sindh and Federal governments’ proposals in this regard,” they pleaded. However, the chief justice was not swayed.

“You have six months to revive KCR,” he said. “There will be no further extensions.”

“Keep working on the CPEC projects — we are not concerned with those. We just want the KCR revived,” he said.

“Clearing up the routes and removing encroachments is your responsibility. The tracks and all things related to the trains have to be managed by Railways,” he said.

Agencies add: Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Gulzar Ahmad Friday said all provincial institutions are corrupt including the Sindh Revenue Board (SRB).

Justice Gulzar Ahmad heard the case pertaining to encroachments at the Supreme Court Karachi Registry and said a building collapsed in the metropolis, people died but no one showed any concern.

The CJP inquired from Advocate General Sindh Salman Talibuddin about the progress in the Circular Railway project. The advocate general told the court that mass transit plan has been formed and the Green Line Bus and the Orange Line projects have been completed.

Responding to the statement, Justice Gulzar Ahmad remarked that if the projects have been completed then start operating the buses. He stressed that Karachi needs compact projects, tall buildings are made here on small plots and all obsolete buses of the country are being used.

Salman Talibuddin said action has been taken against all corrupt officers. Justice Sajjad Ali Shah remarked that all the steps that have been taken are fake.

Meanwhile, Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed on Friday gave away motorcycles to female lawyers during a ceremony at the Sindh High Court in Karachi.

The top judge handed over keys of motorbikes to 45 lawyers whose names were selected through a draw. The ceremony was a part of the ‘Women On Wheels’ project of the Salman Sufi Foundation and was organised jointly by the foundation and Sindh High Court Bar Association in connection with International Women’s Day to be observed on March 8.

Under the initiative, women will also be provided the training to ride motorcycles.

Addressing the event, Justice Gulzar Ahmed said he was very glad to hear that motorcycles were being gifted to women. He congratulated the organisers of the ceremony but said that in his opinion, “motorcycle is a dangerous mean of transport”. “Women tend to talk a lot. You can’t talk while riding a motorcycle,” the CJP cracked a joke.

Sindh High Court Chief Justice Ahmed Ali M. Shaikh in his remarks said he had been hearing about women’s rights since his childhood but “this is the first time I’ve seen people actually do something for women.”

Besides senior judges, the ceremony was attended by the presidents of all bar associations and senior lawyers.

The female lawyers were enthusiastic about riding their new motorbikes and said it would lessen their travelling worries.

The Women on Wheels initiative aims to empower Pakistani women by “providing them with the necessary skill-set and the means to increase their mobility and independence through the provision of free motorcycle training lessons,” read the contents on its Facebook page.