Strike halts work on Green Line BRT project

KARACHI: Construction work on THE Green Line Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project between Nazimabad Chowrangi and Numaish Chowrangi has stopped for the past three days as the project’s staff has gone on strike for not receiving any remuneration for the past four months.

The project has already failed to meet its earlier deadlines and due to the strike, its first phase between Surjani Town and Numaish Chowrangi, whose completion has been targeted in April, might not be able to meet the deadline.

Angered over the non-payment of salaries, the workers are adamant that they will resume work only after they are paid their dues.

However, work on other portions of the project continues as usual. It has been reported that one of the contractor’s of the project, CRFG-MATRA COM, who is responsible for the work on BRT between Nazimabad Chowrangi and Numaish Chowrangi, has not paid the salaries of the staff since the past four months due to which the staff is on strike since Saturday, resulting in the suspension of work on the project.

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When a Daily Express representative reached the CRFG-MATRA COM office to get the contractor’s version, he was told by the security guard that no one was present in the office. In the meantime, the protesting workers were sitting outside the office carrying placards and raising slogans against the administration. The workers said that the salaries they had been promised ranged between Rs13,000 and Rs15,000. They claimed that the contractor had not paid them for the past four months which had made their lives miserable. The workers appealed to the Sindh governor to take notice of the injustice meted out to them. They asked the governor to make sure that their dues were paid and the contractor did not take any revengeful action against them such as firing them.

The workers were assured on Tuesday that they would be paid salaries in two days. However, they maintained that they would continue the strike until they received their salaries.

KIDCL version

Commenting on the strike, Uzma Paracha, the spokesperson of the Karachi Infrastructure Development Company Limited (KIDCL) which is responsible for the BRT project, said all dues had been paid to the relevant contractor who had been directed to pay salaries to the staff. The KIDCL spokesperson expressed hope that the strike would end on Tuesday and work would be resumed.

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The KIDCL spokesperson said the work from Surjani Town to Numaish Chowrangi had been given to various contractors, of which one of the companies, CRFG-MATRA COM, had not paid the workers due to which they were on strike since Saturday. She added that due to the strike, only the work from Nazimabad Chowrangi to Gurumandir had stopped, while the work on other parts of the project was in progress.

The Green Line BRT project will be completed in two phases, the spokesperson said, adding that the first phase between Surjani Town and Numaish Chowrangi will be completed by April while the second phase between Taj Medical Complex and Municipal Park is being redesigned on the directives of the government. As soon as the new design is finalised, the construction work on the second phase will begin, the KIDCL spokesperson said.

The BRT project between Surjani Town and Municipal Park was initially supposed to be completed by December last year but due to slow work and other reasons, it was delayed. The date of the completion of the project cannot be ascertained as the work on the second phase has yet to be started.

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