Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) System in Karachi
Artist's impression of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) System in Karachi. Image Credit: Supplied

Islamabad: The French Agency for Development (AFD) has provided a soft loan of 65 million euros to Pakistan for the safe and environment-friendly public transport project in Karachi.

Pakistan’s Secretary of Economic Affairs Division Noor Ahmed, Ambassador of France Marc Barety and AFD’s country director Philippe Steinmetz signed the credit financing agreement worth 65 million euros this week. France will co-finance the Karachi Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system with Asian Development Bank (ADB), Asian Infrastructure Investment bank (AIIB) and Green Climate Fund (GCF). The project “will be one of the very first collaborative operations for AIIB and GCF in Pakistan on urban development” according to the official statement.

The 26.6-km transport project will integrate innovative energy and climate resilience features to enhance access to quality public transport in Karachi – Pakistan’s commercial hub. The project agreement was earlier signed between AFD, Sindh province transport department, Sindh mass transit authority and TransKarachi – the company responsible for running the buses.

Biomethane-powered buses

To address the climate change concerns, the authorities have chosen biomethane hybrid bus technology, powered by a dedicated waste mechanisation plant, to further limit carbon dioxide emissions from the public transport system. The project also includes a support component for the transition of the existing bus sector with the integration of informal operators into the new system, which is an essential prerequisite for proper and full commissioning.

Through AFD, France is providing technical and financial support in the energy and urban development sector in Pakistan and has committed 850 million euros in financial support since 2016.

Project highlights

· TransKarachi, established by Sindh mass transit authority, will be responsible for the operation and management of Karachi BRT system.

· The mass transit system called ‘Karachi Breeze’ will introduce 200 eco-friendly buses that will be powered by biomethane to reduce air and noise pollution.

· The 26.6-km transport project will directly benefit 1.5 million people.

· It aims to improve the commuting experience and overall quality of life in the city of nearly 20 million.

· The project would improve the transport system in the most densely populated Karachi city, which is ranked low in the Global Livability Index Report due to poor transport and severe traffic congestion among other issues.