KARACHI - Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has said that the approval of Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) by the Joint Working Group (JWG) of China- Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a big success for the people of Karachi.

“This is the result of constant and sincere efforts of the provincial government,” he added.

He was addressing a reception he hosted for the JWG of CPEC here at the CM House on Saturday.

He said that this morning an important meeting of Transport Infrastructure of JWG of CPEC was held here at which all the three projects, KCR, Keti Bander and Special Economic Zone, Dhabeji, put forward by the Sindh government, were discussed.

“The meeting approved three important projects and forwarded these to the Joint Coordination Committee of the CPEC for its implementation under the CPEC framework,” the CM said, and added that the CPEC would help build a robust and stable economy in Sindh together with generating sound prospects for the province to revive and expand its road connectivity. “This will usher in a new era of connectivity in which fruits of economic benefits will be reaped through employment generation and decent mode of transportation,” he said.

The CM said that the meeting of Joint Cooperation Committee was held in Beijing, China on 29th December, 2016 in which he, along with a senior delegation, participated.

“We (the Sindh government) proposed Karachi Circular Railway, Keti Bundar and a Special Economic Zone in Dhabeji to be built under the CPEC, which were graciously included,” he told the audience.

The chief minister said that the Sindh government, taking cognizance of the importance of KCR, has approved the feasibility and framework agreement and shared it with the federal government in order to execute this mega project of high priority at the earliest.

“The KCR is the integral part of the comprehensive mass transit system envisaged for this mega city,” Murad said, and added that KCR was in great public demand, having the ridership of 700,000 per day.

“Karachi is amongst the most populated cities of the world and there will be ample returns on any investment done in the city in wider economic terms. These economic benefits include reduced vehicle operation cost (VOC) and travel time cost (TCC),” he said.

Murad further said, “We understand that a comprehensive mass transit system is the only solution to address the bourgeoning population of this mega city.”

He added the Sindh government had therefore started working on various Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lines which would complement the KCR and reduce the miseries of commuters of this city.

He went on saying that the investors were therefore invited to contribute to KCR and other mass transit systems in Sindh.

The CM said that the Sindh’s coastline was more than 300 kilometres long. “It has two ports, Karachi and Bin Qasim,” he said, and added that a new jetty at Keti Bundar would enhance country’s ability to export coal with the potential to develop it into a full port. “Five million people living in the surrounding areas would directly benefit from it,” he said.

Talking about Special Economic Zone, the chief minister said that Sindh had already established few Special Economic Zones like Bin Qasim Industrial Park, Korangi Creek Industrial Park and Khairpur Special Economic Zone.

He added that Dhabeji stretched over 1000 acres and was about 55 kilometres from Karachi at the Eastern alignment of CPEC.  “It has commercial viability and development potential in the immediate terms,” he said, and went on saying that it was believed that this economic zone would usher in an era of prosperity for the growers of this province coupled with substantial increase in the production sector.

He said that the CPEC would prove to be milestone in the history of Pakistan-China relations, which would not only bring extensive development opportunities to the locals but would also develop the underdeveloped areas of the country.

After through discussion the 5th Joint Working Group on Transport Infrastructure has approved and recommended Revival of Karachi Circular Railway to the Joint Coordination Committee of CPEC for its implementation under the CPEC framework.