Karachi: Dozens of illegal bus terminals in residential and market areas of Karachi are adding to the issue of traffic jams in the city; however, the related departments are not taking steps to remove these illegal termini to reduce undue traffic congestion in these areas.
The illegal bus terminals are mostly concentrated in Saddar area of district South Karachi, where pedestrians, motorists and commuters face immense problems as the parked buses occupy major portion of roads and footpaths. The Mansfield Street and Depot Lines streets of Saddar houses major illegal bus terminals of Karachi where a large number of buses could be seen parked at any time of the day. The traffic going to Empress Market area from the M A Jinnah Road virtually crawls as Mansfield Street. The illegal bus terminal at the junction of Castle Street and Mansfield Street in front of City View Apartments is the major cause of traffic jams in the locality and this is also a menace for students of nearby Karachi Grammar School. Hundreds of pushcarts and roadside vendors also operate in this overcrowded congested area, also a huge security risk. However, the related departments are not taking any action to remove this illegal bus terminal.
Even if the traffic police and administration compel the bus operators not to park their vehicles on main Mansfield Street and Castle Street, it could also help in reducing traffic jams to some extend; however, the bus operators are not only allowed to park their buses on these busy streets, but even some bus operators plying buses on Quetta route are allowed to occupy the footpath of Saddar Fire Brigade. These bus operators use the junction of Mansfield Street and Price Road to park their buses, illegally.
Similarly, the junction of main M A Jinnah Road and Tragedy Street houses another major illegal bus terminal of Karachi. In fact the whole Tragedy Street from the Jacob Lines Girls Secondary School up to New Preedy Street in front of Saddar Car Parking Plaza is a huge illegal bus terminal parking hundreds of buses and vans. The residents of Taj Complex and other buildings and students and teachers of the Jacob Lines Girls Secondary School face immense problems due to this illegal bus parking bus despite repeated complaints the government authorities are not yet prepared to solve this problem.
On the Depot Lines just in front of Jahangir Park opposite the Empress Market runs the illegal terminal of minibuses of route G-3. This illegal terminus creates crippling traffic jams on the Depot Lines. This illegal terminal is also a source of fleecing commuters as they have to pay double fare for a single journey. The minibuses of G-3 coming from Merewether Tower area illegally ends their route here and the commuters have to take another G-3 minibus from this illegal terminal for their onward journey to M A Jinnah Road and University Road, paying double fare for a single trip. The administration of Karachi is fully aware of this fleecing of commuters and blockage of main road before a public park due to this illegal terminus but again they prefer not to take any action.
Last year, the government had announced to re-route bus routes from Saddar area but it is still no more than an announcement. The Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) had announced that they had re-designed the routes of 46 buses and minibuses, barring entry of many of them in the area, besides banning all types of parking from Empress Market to Regal Chowk to clear this area from traffic jams. Under the proposed re-routing plan, all public transport buses coming from Jinnah Hospital side would be returned making a loop at Lucky Star. All buses and minibuses coming from M.A. Jinnah would not be allowed to enter Saddar and instead routed to Saeed Manzil direction. Moreover, there would be ban on entry of Qinqui rickshaws in Saddar area.
There are 22 routes of wide-bodied buses, 19 of minibuses, 3 of KPTS buses and 1 each of ‘coaches’ and UTS buses that pass through Empress Market Saddar area. Here public transport enters from five roads – M A Jinnah Road, Rafiqui Shaheed Road, Dr Daudpota Road, Iqbal Shaheed Road and Mansfield Street.
However, the implementation on the Empress Market re-routing plan is yet to be started, despite the directives from the Governor House and Commissioner Karachi.
Local traders also face a lot of problems due to these illegal bus terminals, says All Pakistan Organisation of Small Traders and Cottage Industries (APOST&CI) Karachi chapter president Mehmood Hamid. He said the government should implement the Saddar bus re-routing plan on priority basis to make this area pedestrian-friendly and free from traffic congestions, so that local and foreign tourists can easily visit the historical building of Empress Market and Jahangir Park.