Regularize roof racks or remove them: demand commuters

Karachi: The commuters of Karachi have demanded from the Sindh government to formally regularize roof racks of minibuses and announce a fare tariff for commuters travelling while sitting on minibus roof, or remove them as per the direction of Supreme Court of Pakistan.

The apex court of the country during hearing of Karachi law and order case last year had instructed to remove roof-racks of minibuses in Karachi; however, the then government, as well as, present caretaker setup tossed these directions behind their back.

Abdul Kareem, a middle-aged daily wager working in Old City area, commuting on rooftop of Shiraz Coach to his job place along with dozens of other passengers said all minibuses carry passengers on roof racks of their vehicles and charge full fare from them. He said if the government cannot persuade the private transporters removing their roof racks it should formally regularize commuting on rooftops on public transport vehicles and announce special fares for these commuters. He said the private transporters should be made bound to charge half of the regular fare from the commuters perching on rooftops of minibuses.

Karachi is the most neglected city of Pakistan in terms of public transport where medieval-era mode of public transport persists, comprising junk-class rusty and smoky buses, overcrowded to roof, running recklessly without any regard to bus stop, red light signal and other traffic regulations.

Saima, a student of Karachi University, said it is shame for the elected representatives of Karachi that they even failed to upgrade public transport to their city even to Lahore level. She said Lahore, once considered a big village-town, now owns a modern metro bus system thanks to dedication and commitment of their political leaders, but the politicians of Karachi miserably failed to serve their voters by improving urban civic facilities for them.

Karachi was amongst the modern cities of the region in terms of public transport before the creation of Pakistan. It had got a well-oiled tram system. Even in later years the city was given a good surface rail based public transport system, called Karachi Circular Railway (KCR). The city had a big fleet of Karachi Transport Corporation (KTC) buses, but like private transporters, who are notorious for greasing the palms of corrupt bureaucracy.

Fahad Zafar, a teacher, said corrupt bureaucracy is present everywhere in Pakistan, but the main issue is corrupt political leadership. He said if in the presence of corrupt bureaucracy, the Lahorites could get a modern metro bus system, it could also happen in other provinces, provided their political leaderships are sincere to their voters.

Inefficient public transport system is the main hurdle in a steep economic uplift of the city, because the mobility factor of workforce plays a crucial role in development of the economy of industrial and port cities. The government and political leaderships should take notice of dismal minibus system of Karachi, as travelling of commuters on rooftops of minibuses is not allowable in any civilized society. These dangerously overcrowded minibuses are a blemish on the face of Karachi and all stakeholders should play their due role to give a long due overhauling to public transport system of this mega city.