Investment available for public transport if govt provides security

Karachi: Urban public transport sector of Karachi offers unbelievable profit margin and a lot of local traders and businessmen are ready to invest to bring new buses on Karachi roads, provided the government ensures their security and pay for their insurance against arson and vandalizing, said All Karachi Tajir Ittehad (AKTA) President Atiq Mir.

He said it is a misconception that local and international financing is not available for Karachi urban transport sector. He said the main issue is how to ensure safety of new buses from arson and vandalizing. He said it is a trend in Karachi that political parties burn public transport vehicles on their protest days and the government does not provide compensation to the affected transporters. Many local transporters are not financial sound and they do not buy insurance cover for their vehicles. If the government of Sindh pays for the insurance of new buses, dozens of traders are willing to bring hundreds of new wide-bodied buses on Karachi roads, because the profit margin in unbelievably high.

He said it is shame for not only Karachi, but whole Pakistan that the largest city of the country is a Chingchi City. He said the government should immediately ban Chingchi rickshaws that are too dangerous to be allowed to ply on main roads. He said the government also should ban minibuses and coaches and only allow wide-bodied buses to ply on the city roads. He said the repair of the KCR is a must to improve public transport facilities in Karachi.

However, Manzoor Razi of Pakistan Railway Workers Union said the repair and running of KCR is a not a huge task and the Pakistan Railway is fully capable of repairing the damaged KCR loop and running local trains on it. He said the main hurdle is the attitude of the government that is not ready to see local trains running in Karachi. He said Karachi Urban Transport Corporation (KUTC) has become a burden on the exchequer and every month millions of rupees are spent on it but during last 12 years despite eating billions of rupees of the taxpayers’ money this corporation has done nothing. He said if the funds spent on the KUTC were spent on the KCR, not only the present loop would have been repaired and revived but another track also would have been laid. He said the main hurdle in KCR repair is not encroachments or paucity of funds but the insincerity and deception of the government.

Karachiites are at loss to understand why the political parties sitting in the provincial assembly of Sindh including MQM, PPPP, PTI, PML-N and PML-F are not raising voice for improving the urban transport sector of Karachi including the repair of KCR track and running local trains on it. Some blame that the powerful transporter mafia is too generous in giving bribes to save its vested interests. However, poor public transport system in Karachi is harming the economy of the city and in long run damaging the interests of Karachiites.

However, the Karachi commuters’ rights campaign (KCRC) believes that the federal government and provincial government of Sindh need to allocate liberal funds to revamp public transport sector in Karachi. It is overdue now that the narrow-bodied minibuses, coaches and Chingchis should be banned immediately and incentives be given to investors to bring wide-bodied buses on Karachi roads. The repair of the KCR should be started on war footing basis and local trains should be run immediately between Landhi and the City Station and all bus routes along Shahra-e-Faisal between Landhi and Tower should be cancelled to make Landhi-City Station local train section a financial success. The white elephant in the shape of KUTC should either be made functional or closed down. The affairs of the KCR should be fully handed over to the Pakistan Railways (PR) because many cooks spoil the broth.

It is regretted that Karachi is still a Chingchi City, while after Lahore, Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Multan are getting Metro Bus system. It says it is a failure of the provincial government that when Lahore is getting a modern metro rail system, Karachi roads are braving old, junk-like minibuses and coaches. It is not only the failure of the provincial government but also of the political parties that reach the assemblies after getting votes from Karachi.

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