No green signal for KCR, as commuters suffer silently

Karachi: Millions of commuters in Karachi face immense troubles on daily basis while the provincial government of Sindh, as well as, the federal government is not showing seriousness and sincerity to solve this lingering public issue. Sadly, the elected parties of Karachi including Muttahida Quami Movment (MQM), Pakistan Peoples’ Party Parliamentarians (PPPP), Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Tahreek Insaf (PTI) have been betraying their voters as non on these parties has brought a resolution, adjournment motion or even call attention notice on this issue in Sindh Assembly.

The destruction of KCR is a sad chapter of bureaucratic inefficiency and political apathy regarding solving the public issues in Karachi. This functional system was deliberately allowed to decay after its abrupt closure, and land mafia facilitated by certain political circles to occupy the KCR lands and damage its tracks, rail crossing gates, signal system and local railway stations. Resultantly, not only a functional surface rail urban public transport system was closed but also damaged beyond repair.

Mohammad Baseem Rao, general secretary Railway Workers Union and president of Pakistan transport and general workers federation told PPI that the repair and running of KCR is not a serious issue provided there is a political will. He said the government has formed Karachi Urban Transport Corporation (KUTC) to revive the KCR, but instead of reviving the KCR the KUTC itself became a white elephant. He said every month millions of rupees are spent from the taxpayers’ money to the KUTC, but since last 12 years it has not done anything as far as revival or the repair of KCR is concerned. He demanded a forensic audit through third party of KUTC funds for last 12 years, adding the results would show how the taxpayers’ money is looted and wasted in our country.

He said the KCR revival project should be taken away from the KUTC which is a grossly inefficient and corruption-marred institute and handed back to the Pakistan Railways. He said the Sindh government should also give its share of funds to the Pakistan Railways so that the KCR loop could be repaired and made functional again. He said if the Pakistan Railways is given just six months it would not only fully repair and revive the existing KCR loop but also lay another track to make the KCR a double-tracked loop. He said sufficient locomotives and rolling stock are present in the Pakistan Railway workshops to run the KCR. He said all needed is the political will on the part of Sindh government and hand over the project to the Pakistan Railways. He said the KUTC during past 12 years have failed to revive the KCR and in the next 12 years also could not do anything because it is a grossly inefficient institution.

Karachi is the only mega city of the world where local labor mobility is a serious problem, which adversely affect the economy of this city, as well as, whole Pakistan, said Nasir Mansoor of National Trade Union Federation (NTUF). He said the closure of KCR is not an isolated event, but closely linked to the closure of the Karachi Transport Corporation (KTC) and Sindh Road Transport Corporation (SRTC). He said certain regional and international elements did not want to see Karachi becoming an economic and industrial powerhouse of the region and they conspired to deliberately damage its public transport sector so that to hit hard its swift urban economy. He said Karachi could never become a real urban city and a major industrial and trade hub of the region till its public transport sector is organized and the repair and running of the KCR would be its first step.

Pasban e Pakistan President Altaf Shakoor said the political parties of Karachi are not paying attention to the lingering public transport issue of this city. He said Karachi needs a modern public transport system and the Sindh government and Pakistan Railways should settle their differences and start an emergency plan to repair and re-run the KCR. He said the KCR does not need a modern Japanese or Chinese technology but some diesel engines from the diesel engine workshops of Pakistan Railway, repair of damaged track and signaling system, repair and renovation of the local train stations and millions of the commuters would be benefited within a couple of weeks if repair work is started in three shifts. He said the Pakistan Railway could even today run local trains between the City Station and Landhi Station, because this track has already been functional and it would also carter hundreds of thousands of commuters every day.

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