T

he $787 million loan agreement between the government and the World Bank is a promising injection of funds into development of infrastructure in Pakistan; in Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in particular. The money has been earmarked for five different projects – three in Karachi take up the major share of the allocated funds.

$382 million will go to the Karachi Mobility (Yellow Line) Project, $230 million to the Competitive and Liveable City of Karachi project and $40 million to the Karachi Water and Sewerage Services Improvement Project (Phase-1). A $70 million loan for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Integrated Tourism Development Project was also agreed to by both parties, as was an additional $65 million, signed for the Central Asia South Asia Electricity Transmission and Trade Project (CASA-1000) Project.

With a total of $ 382 million set aside for development of the yellow line corridor in Karachi – out of which Rs 61.4 billion will go into the BRT programme – Karachi’s transportation infrastructure should see a major overhaul along the allocated route. Both the federal and the provincial governments seem convinced that this will ease road congestion, decrease accidents and reduce emissions, but this is only possible if the government ensures that the project is completed in a timely and transparent manner, without any design flaws.

The other two projects in Karachi, for both sewage and improving the city’s ability to handle commercial activity, are important in ensuring that Pakistan’s most economically profitable city is brought up to the mark in terms of liveability. Karachi has been lagging behind other major cities in terms of development for a long time, and these funds will hopefully ensure that its residents are not lacking for basic services.

Improving tourism in KP and the rest of the government has also been one of the government’s main electoral promises in terms of improving economic activity in the country, and it is hoped that the $70 million loan is utilised properly to ensure that the many sights of KP manage to attract both local and foreign tourists. Of course, Pakistan is still improving access to the country for foreigners by easing visa requirements and improving travel arrangements; these will have to go hand in hand if the government wants to truly reap the benefits of opening up our borders for visits – and more profits – via the tourism industry.

In a nutshell, all of these projects will prove to positive for long-term development in Pakistan, and the government should be congratulated for securing loans from the World Bank for these endeavours. It is only hoped that the execution of all of these projects is just as smooth as securing the funds has been.