KARACHI: It is not herd of sheep being overloaded in a vehicle instead it is a green bus, having monogram of one of the prestigious universities of the country, Karachi University, transporting students to and from the campus.
These scenes are seen every day with students, especially females, travelling on footboards of overcrowded ‘point’ buses, risking their lives. Even after several incidents including a recent one in Lahore where a female student of Punjab University (PU) was crushed to death after falling from the door of a university bus, the authorities seemed to pay no heeds towards improving situation of campus transport.
With almost 25000 students studying in the University of Karachi, only 16 point points are plying on different routes while. nine point buses were not able to be used due to maintenance purpose. There are 56 seats in each point-bus. However almost double the number travel on each bus. Students in these capacity packed buses travel on footboards in very risky manner.
On April 18, 2009, a university student, Faiza Nadeem Zaidi, was crushed to death and university administration assured better facilities of transport but despite of passing four years, there is no attention of the administration towards the transport facilities.
A student at KU, Humaira Ahmed told PPI that majority of the students belong to middle class families who had to pay around Rs 20 to Rs 25 as public transport charges to reach campus so in order to avoid expense, they prefer to travel by point-buses.
“We are risking our lives for just saving Rs 10. Boys and girls hangout on the edge of the bus doors during a journey of almost an hour as buses have long routes.”
Meanwhile, Mohammad Ali, studying in International Relations department of the university, said that there was no facility of transport for students of evening classes. We are paying almost four times more fees to the university than morning classes but instead there is no transport facility in evening.
“We had to pay Rs 30 to a rickshaw driver to reach main gate of the university then pay almost Rs 20 to reach our residence. This is a great burden for us.”
Some students complained that the university buses were also booked for picnic and other events by university administration on off days in order to generate funds. Main cause of damaged buses is their use as contract buses. Anyone can book them for their event. There are different charges for different routes which vary from Rs 10,000 and onwards per trip, a source in transport department said.
He said that some people in university administration are also involved in running private vehicles for transport purpose within the varsity premises. These private vehicles, rickshaws and hi-roofs, could be seen in the premises.
When contacted, Public Relations Officer of Karachi University, Farheen Zehra, blamed scarcity of funds for less point-buses and said that it was very hard to arrange funds for maintenance and fuel of the transport. “We have been facing a shortage of funds for fuel and maintenance so at present it is not possible to increase the number of point buses.”
When asked that why the university buses were being used as contract carriage, she said these buses are used for only trips, arranged by the university.
She denied that university officials were running business of private transport vehicles and said that private vehicles inside the campus are only allowed for special students, aged-teachers and students carrying luggage.
Zehra further said that the university was not able to provide transport facility to the evening shift students due to lack of funds. “We are not considering any transport facility for the evening students. We are not able to meet demands of transport expenses in morning shift so how could we start transport for evening classes?”