New bus routes only solution to Karachi public transport woes

Karachi: For last 20 years not a single new minibus is given route permit in Karachi, while the population of the city has raised manifold, creating huge problems for commuters. Inductions of new buses and issuance of revised bus routes is the only way to solve the public transport sector woes of Karachi, said Pakistan Muslim League (PML) Sindh chapter president and Pakistan Relief Foundation chairman Haleem Adil Shaikh here Monday.

He said the successive governments in Sindh province have just neglected the vital urban public transport sector. He said the government functionaries including ministers have no vision of modern urban public transport systems. He said for last 20 years not a single new scheme of public transport buses is introduced, saving the failed experiments of inducting 200 CNG buses which was marred due to corruption and lack of accountability. He said procurement of 200 substandard CNG buses with billions of rupees of taxpayers’ money is one of the big corruption scams needing a serious probe.

Shaikh said mass transit system is still a distant dream in Karachi as it is not on the priority list of the provincial government. He said for last 20 years this city of 20million plus population has not seen a single new public transport vehicle. He said after 1990 no new Madza minibus is introduced in the city and after 1993 no new route permit issued for public transport vehicles. He said this is why the city is depending on a public transport system which is virtually frozen for last two decades. He said wide-bodies buses plying in the city are 50 to 60 years old and they should be sent to junkyards instead of allowing them to ply on the city streets, increasing its air and noise pollution. He said after the yellow taxi schemes a decade back no new taxi system is introduced in the city. He said CNG rickshaw is a welcome addition but the load shedding of CNG has also marred this scheme. He said this is why Karachi has become a Chingchi city.

Haleem Adil Shaikh said the government should give new bus routes to transporters willing to ply new wide-bodied buses in Karachi. He said all old buses and minibuses should be phased out. He said colour coding of Karachi transport vehicles should be implemented in letter and spirit and fines for road law violations increased to show the writ of government on city streets.

He said the project of revival of Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) should be started without further loss of time and the government should also introduced bus schemes like defunct Karachi Transport Corporation (KTC) in government sector, as the profit hungry private sector is not primarily concerned with facilitating commuters.

He said in all countries of world city planners devise new public transport schemes for their urban centres as their population grows but this vision visibly lacks in the case of Sindh province, especially Karachi. He said even citizens of Lahore enjoy better commuting facilities as compared to the Karachi commuters. He demanded immediate start of mass transit scheme in Karachi to help solving its public transport issue. He said the government should also rationalize bus fares in Karachi on the basis of CNG use on one hand and on the other ensure proper supply of CNG to bus operators.

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