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3,000 public buses taken off-road in 2013

28 December, 2013

KARACHI: Since the 'chingchi' and CNG rickshaws are continuously dominating the streets of the city, massive decrease was recorded in the number of buses by the end of 2013.

As many as 3,000 public transport buses including mini buses and coaches of different routes have been reduced on different pretexts, including incidents of arson and closure of CNG thrice a week.

While it caused serious destruction to the transport giants in the metropolis, the sector of chingchi and CNG rickshaws gained significant boom.

By the end of 2013, it is estimated that above 75,000 CNG rickshaws and CNG chingchi were added to the streets of the metropolis, operating on a majority of short and long routes in different localities, charging a very minimum amount.

On the other hand, number of buses, coaches and taxis, reduced significantly, putting many a smaller transporters in jeopardy mainly because of CNG supply disturbance and a huge increase in chingchis.

Karachi Transport Ittehad officials claimed that in 2012 almost 16,000 coaches and buses were operational in Karachi. Further explaining the woes of the transporters, the officials also informed that more than 100 buses were torched in riots and other criminal activities in the city, only in the last 12 months.

Similarly, Rickshaw Association informed that in the last year, many taxis and autos were torched in violence, and FIRs registered in police stations. However, the uncooperative behaviour of government with drivers, has inversely affected the sales of the vehicles - there was significant decrease in purchase of taxis and petrol based rickshaws this year.

It is known that Karachi is counted as one of the largest cities of the world, where respectable transport is still a distant dream. It is the only mega city of the world where decades old transport vehicles are still operational and plying on the roads.

Although Karachi has a population of more than 20 million both Federal and provincial government as well as the political parties have selfish interests in keeping the city deprived of a modern transport system.

Despite financial as well as strategic support of international organisations such as World Bank, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Asian Development Bank (ADB), the provincial government of Sindh has failed to provide ease to Karachiites in terms of a friendly and sustainable public transport system.

Moreover, government via time-to-time announcements only, introduced a number of mega transport projects for the city ie, Mass Transit System, Bus Rapid Transit System, Karachi Circular Railways and Benazir Bhutto Shaheed CNG Buses Scheme, none of which have been implemented yet.

In the meantime, two different city Nazims, Naimatullah Khan and Mustafa Kamal, introduced their own Green Bus projects, which turned into shambles, as soon as their tenures were completed.

Punjab government, in early 2012, introduced Metro Bus Service (MBS) in Lahore, one of its kinds in Pakistan. Lahore is the second largest city of Pakistan, having a population of more than one million.

"Although the projects were designed perfectly, the political scenario wasn't feasible for their implementation. This was because of political rivalries. Every government cancelled or delayed the projects initiated by previous regimes," said a source at Mass Transit Cell, Karachi.

"In the last two years, our buses have decreased from 18,000 to 13,000 including 4,000 buses and coaches, of which around 3,000 reduced only in 2013," said Karachi Transport Ittehad Chairman Irshad Bukhari.

It is worth mentioning that Sindh government disbursed compensation money for dozens of buses, that were torched on the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in 2007, now after six years.

Bukhari asserted that the prime reason of massive reduction is poor law and order while CNG closure also disturbed business.

"If government will not give attention to such issues, soon public transport in terms of buses and coaches will vanish," he concluded.


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