ON MAY 13 the Nazim of Karachi, Niamatullah Khan, signed an accord with Gu Zhengxie, Senior Vice-President of China National Machinery & Equipment Group, under which the Chinese company will finance and build the city’s long-planned light rail line.

The ’preliminary implementation agreement’ covers construction of a 15·2 km line in the city’s Corridor I, linking Sohrab Goth, Karimabad, Liquatabad and Mereweather Tower. The first 7·2 km will run underground and the remainder will be elevated. There will be 14 stations, of which seven will be underground and seven elevated. The line is expected to carry around 400000 passengers/day.

Total cost of the scheme is now put at US$569·4m, of which the Karachi city government will provide 10% and the remainder will be funded by the Chinese as a supplier credit repayable over 15 years. Construction work is expected to take 41/2 years. Gu said CNMEG had been trading in Pakistan for a decade, and would bring in expertise from other Chinese firms.