Commuters at receiving end in post-Chingchi Karachi

Karachi: Millions of commuters in Karachi have been facing a nightmarish situation as the provincial transport department has failed to arrange alternate arrangements for commuting after the ban on plying of Chingchis, the makeshift motorcycle rickshaws that previously had been serving hundreds of thousands of the city commuters.

Office goers, students, elderly people and women have been suffering gravely as they could not board overcrowded minibuses that are making a windfall after the ban on Chingchis. Sadly, these minibuses are seen with commuters sitting on their rooftops, which is a grave violation of traffic rules and contempt of the directives of the Supreme Court of Pakistan regarding removal of minibus roof racks.

Kainat, a student of Gulshan e Iqbal college, said they used to commute easily in Chinghcis for a fare of Rs10 per trip. They did not have to wait at bus stops for long and Chinghcis also offer them seat. Now, after ban on Chinghcis they have to wait for hours for a minibus and hardly find any minibus which is not filled up to their footboards. Male commuters occupy female compartments and female commuters have to hire costly rickshaws or taxis.

It is the responsibility of the provincial government of Sindh to arrange alternative public transport for Karachi commuters after the ban on Chingchis, said Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) leader and a former member of Sindh Assembly, Mohammad Yunus Barai. He said the government should immediately grant route permits to wide-bodies buses in the city so as to meet the acute shortage of public transport buses. He said wide-bodies buses that previously used to run on upcountry routes are plying on Saddar-Korangi route and such buses should be brought to other busy roads of Karachi.

Barai said if the government is not able to revive the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) loop, what is the difficulty in not running local trains on Tower to Landhi route, where every infrastructure is present and it only needs locomotives and rolling stock for running local trains. He said if local trains on run on Tower-Landhi route after interval of 10 minutes during morning and evening rush hours not only hundreds of thousands of commuters would be benefited but the Pakistan Railways would also earn huge profit.

Pasban e Pakistan President Altaf Shakoor said till the provincial transport department arranges alternative public transport for Karachiites, the Chingchi rickshaws could be regularized on selected routes. He said Chingchi rickshaws have already been running in Punjab, KpK, Balochistan and Sindh saving Karachi city. He said ban on Chingchi rickshaws have created immense problems for the citizens and Pasban is consulting with its legal team to knock the door of court to seek some relief for the commuters of Karachi till the provincial transport department arranges alternate public transport.

Shakoor said the federal and Sindh government are befooling Karachiites on the issue of KCR revival. He said for last one decade they have been hearing about plans to revive local train system in Karachi. He said running local trains is not a rocket science and this task could be done within weeks but the rulers are not sincere to give Karachiites a respectable public transport system. He said local trains are backbone of urban transport system everywhere in world. He said why our transport planners not learning any lesson from Mumbai local train system. He said now it is an open secret that the KCR is not being revived because it is the conditionality of international lending institutes like IMF and World Bank not to improve public transport system in Karachi. He reminded that the Karachi Transport Corporation was also closed down on the dictation of such international lending institutes, and the Sindh government had got loans from these foreign entities to pay golden handshake to KTC employees.

He suggested regularizing Chingchis after improving their design, safety features, vehicle registration, temporary route permits, and training of their drivers after properly licensing them, till the government or private transporters are able to bring hundreds of thousands of wide-bodies buses to cater the public transport needs of Karachi.

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