Stuck wheels : Sindh fails to launch 1,000 new buses in Karachi

Despite lapse of 18 months, not a single bus could be introduced in the city


Syed Ashraf Ali October 05, 2020

KARACHI:

Despite a lapse of nearly 18 months to an agreement signed between the Sindh government and Korean transport company Daewoo to launch 1,000 buses in the metropolitan, not even a single bus could be launched.

During the past 12 years of governance, the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has failed to introduce even a single public transportation facility for the citizens of Karachi.

Per sources, the Sindh government had signed a memorandum of association (MOA) with Daewoo to launch 1,000 brand new, air-conditioned and CNG-run buses. However, the failure of the company to comply with the agreement has added to the mounting transportation woes of the city.

An officer of the provincial transport department, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told The Express Tribune that as per the agreement signed between the Sindh government and Daewoo, it was decided that during the first phase of the project, 60 buses will be introduced in the metropolis within 60 days of the agreement.

“After two months, another 200 buses were to be introduced in the second phase of the project in 2019, while 800 more buses were to be launched gradually,” he said. “The provincial transport department had even designated the route and fares in this regard, yet the buses could not be launched to date. In fact, no new bus scheme has been launched in the city for the last 16 years.”

The PPP has been ruling the province for 12 years, during which two public transportation schemes were planned. However, both remain unimplemented owing to the inattention of the Sindh government.

In 2017, Chief Minister (CM) Murad Ali Shah had also approved a plan to introduce 600 intercity buses in Karachi, as a part of the Sindh government’s five-year loan programme through the Sindh Modarabad Management Limited. The provincial government had announced it would facilitate transporters in generating funds for new buses.

In 2018, another 10 buses were introduced in the city, under the Peoples Bus Service project, launched by then-transport minister Nasir Hussain Shah. Buses run under this project were also owned and operated by Daewoo. This project was shut down just after a year in April 2019.

As a result, the city is facing an acute shortage of public transport owing to the poor planning of the Sindh government.

With a population of more than 20 million, the metropolis has a demand for 15,000 buses while the higher fares demanded by private transport companies, Qingqi three-wheelers, and Qingqi rickshaws operating in the city are less affordable for the poor masses.

The Express Tribune repeatedly tried to contact Sindh Transport Minister Awais Qadir Shah for comment on the issue, but he did not respond.

On the other hand, transport secretary Shariq Ahmed said that if the new buses had been launched in the city, everyone would have had been aware of it. “I have joined the post only six weeks ago, and therefore, I have no clue about the previous planning. I will, however, be able to comment on the matter after asking the relevant officer,” he said.

Daewoo chairperson Shehryar Chishti could not be approached for his version either.

 

Published in The Express Tribune, October 5th, 2020.

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