GROUNDBREAKING ceremonies for Karachi’s long-planned light rail line are scheduled for August 14, according to Sindh senior minister Dr Farooq Sattar. He told the provincial assembly on January 2 that the Memorandum of Understanding for a 30-year BOT concession signed with a Canadian/Turkish consortium in January 1996 had been reactivated following the transfer of responsibility from the federal government to the province.

Financing for the US$565m Karachi Mass Transit Project is expected to be settled by the end of July, paving the way for a start of work. Sindh and the federal government will together contribute US$160m, and the Indus Mass Transit Co will provide equity finance of US$74m. The rest of the funding will come from US, Canadian, Japanese and Saudi Arabian agencies. IMTC partners include SNC-Lavalin of Canada, Sezai Turkes Feyzi Akkaya of Turkey and local firm Adcon Engineering.

The 13·7 km first line will link Merewether Tower to Karimabad, with a 3·7 km bus feeder to Sohrab Goth. The route will be largely elevated, and will include 14 stations. Construction is expected to take three to four years. Annual patronage is estimated at around 350 million passenger-journeys. Further extensions to create an 87 km network are under study. o