KARACHI - Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has said that Karachi is the most important city in terms of its industrial areas, ports and population; therefore, it needs a major expressway and roads.

He said this while presiding over 24th meeting of the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Policy Board here at Chief Minister’s House on Friday. The meeting was attended by Local Government Minister Jam Khan Shoro, Chief Secretary Rizwan Memon, Planning and Development Chairman Mohammad Waseem, Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Sohail Rajput and members of the board.

The chief minister said that Karachi has the potential to accommodate and attract people from all over the country for jobs, business opportunities and housing facilities. He said that population of the city has now reached 16 million. “The phenomenal population growth and increase in vehicular traffic has resulted in congestion and traffic jams on major roads of the city due to which road users are facing inconvenience, hazards like waste of time and fuel, different kinds of pollution and accidents,” he said.

He said that considering importance of the project the Sindh government had decided to develop the shortest alternative route to connect motorway with the city centre. He said it would be a four lane dual expressway along Malir River starting from Hino Chowk and ending at Super Highway (M-9) near Kathore. The length of the project would be 38 kilometres.

The local government minister said that after a thorough study it had been envisaged that Malir Expressway would be launched under the PPP mode – design, build, operate, maintain and transfer. Shah said the main objective of the project was to build a strategic expressway, which would be required to handle increased traffic as a result of increased economic activity in northern Karachi and hence would be an asset for the city. He said the expressway would serve as southern alternative route to carry traffic of the port and industrial areas to main highways.

The board approved the project and directed the PPP unit to start the process to invite ‘expression of interest’ in the project.

Another project, which came under discussion in the meeting, was Karachi Theme and Safari Park project. The chief minister was told that the KMC had received an unsolicited proposal for the development of Karachi Theme and Safari Park at the existing facility of Safari Park. The project would be started on a build-operate-transfer basis.

The meeting was informed about a state-of-the-art theme park, which would include a ride area with 25 rides and attractions and a family entertainment centre with a food court and additional family rides. There would also be a business centre with souvenir and other shops, he said.

The Safari Park will have a pet farm auditorium where families can enter and spend quality time and children can spend time with harmless animals. There would be a splash zone, the spectacular safari ride and 78 more animals would be procured and adequately placed along with the exiting animals in a free environment. Visitors to the Safari Park would get a lifetime experience of safari ride in which they can observe animals in their natural habitat.

The policy board decided to send the project to the Local Government for technical committee’s evaluation. Local Government Minister Jam Khan Shoro presented Rani Bagh, Hyderabad, project to the policy board. He said his department had conceived the project to restructure, upgrade and redesign Rani Bagh and turn it into a modern recreational facility, which would beautify the city landscape and provide residents with cleaner environment and contemporary entertainment facilities.

Shoro said the existing zoo spreads over an area of 5-7 acres. Various animals and bird species are available there. He said the zoo was not being maintained as per the standing operating procedures.

The minister said the condition of the zoo and other facilities did not make it a preferred tourist spot. The department has a plan to redesign and restructure the facility and introduce gardens, promenades, zoo, recreational areas, open theatre cinema, food outlets and play area for children on a PPP basis.

The chief minister directed the local government department to send the project to the technical committee of the PPP Unit for assessment and then in the next meeting the matter may be brought to the policy board for discussion.  Sindh Minister for Works and Services Imdad Ahmed Pitafi on Friday called on Balochistan Home Minister Sarfaraz Bugti and inquired after his health on behalf of the Sindh chief minister. He also offered a bouquet to Bugti and Bugti thanked the chief minister. Bugti was unable to attend a dinner reception hosted by the Balochistan chief minister and his new cabinet for Shah.