Public transport issue off the radar of govt

Karachi: Karachi, a sprawling city of 24 million population, has became a nightmare for commuters, who travel in a humiliation manner on the roof-racks of crowded minibuses and embarrassing improvised motorcycle rickshaws, called Chingchis, while the most important issue of improving public transport for Karachi is off the radar of provincial government of Sindh, as well as, Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) bosses.

In the civilized countries urban public transport is considered as the most important sector and generous funds and the most brilliant and competent minds of cabinet are given to this sector; however, in our part of the world the situation is just opposite. However, when the public transport sector of Sindh is compared with the public transport sectors of Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, the sad fact is transpired that urban public transport sector in Sindh, especially Karachi, is the most neglected sector of Pakistan.

The sitting government during its present ongoing tenure as well as its previous five years has failed to given even a single mega public transport project to Karachi. Even the green buses brought on roads of Karachi by previous city nazims are seen nowhere. The revival of Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) which a couple of years back was amongst the budget priority of PPPP-led Sindh government is swept before the carpet, silently. It seems that the provincial government does not want to see a modern urban public transport flourishing in the capital city of their province.

The commuters have time and again demanded of the government to join hands with the Pakistan Railways, just to “repair” the KCR track and run available trains on it. Karachiites can wait for modern electric trains for ages; they just need their old and noisy local trains, which would greatly facilitate in reducing traffic congestion of roads and help millions of the commuters.

The government needs to completely ban narrow-bodied minibuses and coaches as well as Chingchis and allow only wide-bodied buses to ply on roads. It should issue at least 1000 new route permits to wide-bodied buses so that their network is extended to every part of Karachi and its suburbs. It should ensure that all public transport buses are painted in red and their fare is rationalized as per the cost of fuel they use.

The Sindh government needs to allocate generous funds and one of the most brilliant and competent minds of it cabinet to Sindh transport department so that it could be run properly and facilitate the citizens. If needed the government may introduce new public transport laws as well, because it enjoys decisive majority in Sindh assembly and it could get passed any law easily.

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