Wanted: Public transport for the public!
Every nation that progresses from ‘being under developed’ to ‘developed’ has many reasons to thank for its growth. But no issue is as important as facilitation of general public, which has to be at the heart and soul of the development. Sadly in Pakistan, the public’s well-being is the last thing on the minds of the mighty and powerful, and that’s one of the reasons why Pakistan hasn’t been able to cross over to the development column even after 65 years!
The evolution of public transport seems to have gone backwards in Pakistan and the people waste a large part of their day waiting to reach their destinations. Karachi is the biggest city in Pakistan, yet it doesn’t have proper bus stops from where mini buses and coaches could come to a halt and pick up passengers lined up in a queue. Instead, the drivers stop their vehicles anywhere they like and board people without thinking twice about the traffic behind them. Mini Buses have taken over the city in the last 20 years and the roads that were ruled by Buses in the 70s and the 80s are now being hounded by drivers straight from a Hollywood Horror Movie.
Traffic police is ineffective and the innocent or those with minor violations get fined, but the death-defying mini bus drivers as well get away? How? Most think that this is due to bribes. Those who are blessed with their own conveyance find themselves robbed by the CNG and Petrol Pump stations which are ONLY in sync with the government when an increase in prices is concerned. A decrease in prices is usually greeted by a ‘call for strike’ or a ‘closure’ of pumps and stations.
Although the last city government tried to change things by introducing the CNG Green Buses for the public, their fate was no different from that of ‘Metro Bus’ service started in the 90s. What started as the ‘Air-Conditioned’ service where no passenger will be allowed to stand finally joined the Mini Bus league without superior service. In fact, people now prefer the traditional Mini Buses more because their ticket is cheaper, and the level of (pathetic) service is at par with the competition.
Karachi used to have a tram system in the 50s and the 60s which was discontinued as it was found to be the reason behind the many accidents on the road. The system needs to make a comeback in the city if the ‘mental accidents’ are to be avoided in the future. With charged parking mafia draining the people on the streets and traffic jams sucking out their life during their journeys, the revival of tram system seems to be the only solution. Of course the existing train system could be localized to give relief to the people but that will not have the long-lasting effect, since the conditions of train is untenable.