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CPEC: new challenges in 2020
Last Updated: 2020-01-21 21:02 |
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by Yasir Habib Khan

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is proving itself a cure of many worries peculiarly chronic ones from infrastructure to Agriculture and from Industry to economy in all the four provinces of Pakistan. From 2013 to 2019, it took up the challenge of pulling millions of Pakistanis out of darkness through power projects and eventually unleashed an “era of light” in the length and breadth of Pakistan. Now in 2020, another daunting challenge is to ease out smothering mass transport woes which is genuinely tormenting the lives of common man over the last many decades.

For more than 200 million Pakistani population, all modes of public transport facilities have hit the rock bottom. Daily commutation has become worst curse. Government employees, students, private workers and people belonging to different sphere of life have to reach their desired destinations after undergoing torrential ordeal of travelling. Since bus and rail infrastructure is meager, people have to wait for long hours to pick their rides. Disservice of public transport has also led to routine road accidents.

For instance Lahore, capital of Punjab and emerging economic hub, is roughly home to about 11 million people. It requires 11,000 full-size buses.

Presently, the Punjab Mass Transit Authority (PMTA) and Lahore Transport Company (LTC) are operating public transport buses in Lahore. Established in 2009, the LTC was given an impressive fleet of 863 buses, 2,200 wagons, and 34,000 auto rickshaws. With every passing day further, it is unfortunate that number of vehicles and their routes have been reduced and that is why commuters’ woes are obvious.

Instead of rhetoric, CPEC has come up with many modern mass transit projects to heel the transport inconveniences. CPEC Rail Based Mass Transit Projects include Karachi Circular Railway, Quetta Mass Transit Project, Greater Peshawar Region Mass Transit and Orange Line Lahore. Top of them is ML-1 from Karachi to Peshawar.

Karachi Circular Railway

Under CPEC, Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) is being revived. Earlier its cost was estimated around Rs 207.54 billion. Later it is under further deliberation to rationalize as per market rate. It seems to be around $1.97 billion. Supreme Court of Pakistan ordered to restore the project. The project includes construction of 24 stations, procurement of 162 locomotives and will serve 515,000 passengers per day. After becoming part of CPEC in the sixth Joint Coordination Committee meeting, Chinese and Pakistani authorities decided to complete the project on a fast track with China’s financial assistance.

Quetta Mass Transit project

Given the framework of CPEC, it is another gigantic project that would provide modern transport facilities to general public. It has already been delayed due to various reasons. Last year it was put on hold by Balochistan government pondering that some few more project need to be incorporated into proposed Quetta Mass Transit system. Bringing this project into action in 2020 will be a challenge for both Chinese and Pakistan government.  

Balochistan government wants to materialize the project after completing the feasibility study, design and the PC-I.  In November 2017, Pakistan and China finalized to launch mass transit projects in Quetta.

Before being part of CPEC, Balochistan government had engaged Chinese companies including the China Communication Construction Company Limited (CCCC) and the China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd (CHEC) to execute the project in 2016. As per previous plan first phase of the Quetta Mass Transit System had to be completed in 2019. First phase of the project, covering a 48.5km route from Kuchlak to Spezant, had cost $214 million and 10 railway stations, three overhead bridges and a tunnel had to be built.

About 30,000 people had been expected to enjoy the cheap and comfortable travel facility on a daily basis. In the second phase of the project, more stations, business centers and other facilities had to be added.

Greater Peshawar Region Mass Transit (Peshawar Circular Railway)

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Transport and Mass Transit Department has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with China Railway Construction Corporation Limited (CRCCL) for chalking out feasibility study of Greater Peshawar Region Mass Transit Project (Peshawar Circular Railway).

According to the MoU, CRCCl would do conduct a feasibility study, inclusive of concept design, cost estimation and will put forth a technical and financial proposal to the provincial government in 2020.

The Peshawar Circular Railway is an inter-regional commuter rail system for the Peshawar Valley which aims to connect cities of Peshawar, Charsadda, Mardan, and Nowshera.

Orange Line Lahore

Lahore’s Orange Line train is another modern mass transit project under CPEC framework. Anyhow finally it is all set to run in March 2020. 

The metro train will first have a test-run for three months, after which the service will officially be launched for public. Its first test-run had been carried out successfully on December 10, 2019.
Punjab officials said that all the technical and mechanical work had been completed and a number of tests of aligning, breaking and signaling will be conducted during test-runs. Fare has been finalized around Rs40. Construction work on the project commenced in 2014 but suffered impasse after the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) failed to release funds to construction companies.

Last year, the court ordered the authority to release funds worth Rs400 million and Rs600 million to contractors after which the construction work started again. It is expected that more than 350,000 passengers will enjoy the modern mass transit facilities. 

CPEC ML-1 Karachi to Peshawar

It is another challenge to complete as ML-1 hit the snags a number of time in previous years. It is hoped that it will get underway in 2020. 

As per sources, a summary of $9.249 billion for PC-1 has been initiated. After the approval of PC-1, phase 1 will be completed in four years, phase 2 in five years and phase 3 will be completed in seven years. China will be issuing financial assistance for the project for 30 years.

Speed of trains will be 160 kilometers per hour and the number of passenger trains will also be ramped up to 30 by 2024, and 40 by 2030. Similarly, there will be 18 cargo trains by 2024 and 30 by 2030.

The CPEC ML-1 will modernize a Karachi-Peshawar track spanning over 1,872 kilometers. Around $2.368 billion will be spent on CPEC project phase-1, while phase 2 will cost $3.267 billion and phase 3 will cost around $3.676 billion.

Yasir Habib Khan is working as special correspondent of China Economic Net. He is also President of Institute of International Relations and Media Research (IIRMR)  


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CPEC: new challenges in 2020
Source: | 2020-01-21 21:02
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