Karachi railway revival faces shanty town delay

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Railway revival gets help from Chinese donors
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Railway revival gets help from Chinese donors
A man rests in the shade on the platform of the abandoned Nazimabad station in Karachi, Pakistan, May 23, 2017. Nazimabad station was a stop on the now disused Karachi Circular Railway. REUTERS/Caren Firouz SEARCH "FIROUZ RAILWAY" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
The driver's seat is seen inside an old locomotive used on the Karachi Circular Railway line, in the railway mechanical yard in Karachi, Pakistan, May 25, 2017. REUTERS/Caren Firouz SEARCH "FIROUZ RAILWAY" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A man waits to cross a portion of track once shared with the disused Karachi Circular Railway line in Karachi, Pakistan, May 24, 2017. REUTERS/Caren Firouz SEARCH "FIROUZ RAILWAY" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Tea cups are stored on top of old equipment in the Wazir Mansion station on the disused Karachi Circular Railway line in Karachi, Pakistan, May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Caren Firouz SEARCH "FIROUZ RAILWAY" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A man looks at clothing for sale along the track of the now disused Karachi Circular Railway line, near Lyari station in Karachi, Pakistan, May 24, 2017. REUTERS/Caren Firouz SEARCH "FIROUZ RAILWAY" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A boy poses for a picture with his toy gun at a market held along the platform of the disused Lyari station in Karachi, Pakistan, May 24, 2017. Lyari station was once a stop on the now disused Karachi Circular Railway line. REUTERS/Caren Firouz SEARCH "FIROUZ RAILWAY" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A man sleeps on a bench at Cantonment railway station, once a stop on the now disused Karachi Circular Railway line, in Karachi, Pakistan, May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Caren Firouz SEARCH "FIROUZ RAILWAY" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Women walk through a plot of land belonging to Pakistan Railways, outside the abandoned Nazimabad station in Karachi, Pakistan, May 23, 2017. Nazimabad station was once a stop along the now disused Karachi Circular Railway line. REUTERS/Caren Firouz SEARCH "FIROUZ RAILWAY" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A child from a homeless family sits on a bed, on the track of the disused Karachi Circular Railway line in Karachi, Pakistan, May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Caren Firouz SEARCH "FIROUZ RAILWAY" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
People cross over the tracks of the now disused Karachi Circular Railway line near the abandoned Nazimabad station in Karachi, Pakistan, May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Caren Firouz SEARCH "FIROUZ RAILWAY" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Graffiti covers a wall built to block pedestrian access along the track of the disused Karachi Circular Railway line in Karachi, Pakistan May 23, 2017. Picture taken May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Caren Firouz SEARCH "FIROUZ RAILWAY" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
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KARACHI, Pakistan (Reuters) - After many false starts, plans to resurrect a railway in Pakistan's teeming metropolis of Karachi are moving ahead with the help of Chinese cash. Not everyone is happy.

The Chinese-funded $2 billion project to revive Karachi Circular Railways (KRC), nearly two decades since it was shut down, has been touted as a way to ease pollution and chronic congestion in the port city of 20 million people.

It is also viewed with suspicion by Pakistanis who have built homes and businesses along the 43-km route connecting Karachi's sprawling suburbs with the industrial and commercial areas of the megacity.

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In April, a push to remove shanty towns near the rubbish-strewn railway track was met with violence as residents clashed with police and set fire to machinery used for demolishing homes.

Officials say nearly 5,000 houses and 7,650 other encroaching structures have been erected along the route of the old KRC, which closed in 1999 after 29 years of shunting passengers across the sweltering city.

Three-wheel auto-rickshaws and mini-buses - often cramped and with no air conditioning - have filled the transport gap on Karachi's streets despite grumbling from commuters.

Work on the new KRC is scheduled to begin later this year, with financing from the $57 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, part of Beijing's wider Belt and Road initiative to build trade routes from Asia to Europe and Africa.

Beijing's cash is building motorways and power plants to alleviate Pakistan's energy shortages, but Karachiites hope it could also modernize their city at a time when traffic appears to be spiraling out of control.

"Let's hope under CPEC, KCR is revived and people will get an alternate to miserably public transport," said Manzoor Ahmed Razi, chairman of the Railway Workers Union.

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