Sindh lacks public transport policy

Karachi: When yet another provincial budget is about to be presented in Sindh Assembly, it seems this year also the vital urban public transport sector would continue to be neglected and the provincial government t of Sindh has still failed to make a sound public transport policy for their province.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leadership due to their industrial and entrepreneur background quickly realized that developing urban public transport would not only boost their provincial economy but also the image of their governance and they worked overtime to give Lahore modern metro bus system; however, urban and rural Wadera type political leadership of Sindh lacked such vision and they made Karachi a ‘Chingchi city’.

A couple of years back the Sindh government in its annual budget had mentioned the revival of Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) as their main budget priorities, but not only nothing was done in the whole year on the KCR, but this priority was never mentioned in the budget of coming years. This shows the vision of the provincial government of Sindh about vital urban public transport sector.

The provincial minister of transport Mumtaz Hussain belongs to Jacobabad district and may not be well-versed with the modern vision of urban public transport, but the attitude to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) lawmakers towards the public transport issues of Karachi is just strange. This party has joined and left the provincial government several times, but it has failed to raise a strong voice in favour of improving the public transport sector of Karachi. Some critics suggest that the MQM itself is afraid of modernizing public transport sector of the city as it would change the political attitude of its voters. They feel that the voters with a true urban and cosmopolitan vision may not support the MQM, as the results of elections in the posh areas of DHA and Clifton shows.

Anyway, modernizing urban public transport sector of Karachi in the long run is in favour of both PPPP and MQM, as it would spur the economy of this port city, creating more job opportunities for the urban educated youth of the city and unskilled youth of rural areas of Sindh that are migrating to Karachi in large number. Moreover, if modern metro buses or KCR local trains run in Karachi it would also show practical governance, which would ultimately benefit politically the PPPP and MQM. It is high time that Karachi should be modernized in terms of public transport and the blemish of being a Chingchi City be wiped off its shining face.

The provincial government of Sindh needs to allocate ample funds in its annual budget for revamping the urban public transport including revival of the KCR and it should better give the portfolio of the transport to some energetic MPA with a vision of how to spur an urban economy by developing modern public transport system.