Every day, hundreds of thousands of people have to squeeze inside congested buses to commute. The limited number of public buses and no other cheap transport alternative leave them at the mercy of the transport mafia.
Sensing the need to address the growing traffic woes of the city, the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) has put aside Rs1.35 billion for two major transport schemes in the budget for 2012-13 fiscal year. The city administration is eyeing to revive the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) and start the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS).
The KCR project, which experts have deemed imperative for improving the public transport system, will get Rs850 million in the budget this year, while the BRTS will get Rs500 million.
During his budget speech, KMC Administrator Muhammad Hussain Syed specifically thanked the federal government for releasing funds for the derailed project. He claimed that the circular railway is expected to start by September 2013.
After the train service was discontinued, the project has been struggling to get back on track, but the authorities are now hopeful of starting it. The authorities concerned still face the daunting task of clearing the railway tracks, which have been largely encroached upon. From Gulshan-e-Iqbal to Liaquatabad and onwards, the railway track has been encroached and people have built concrete houses and shops all along the track.
The KMC has, nevertheless, started a drive against such illegal structures and officials are attaching some hope with the project.
For the bus transit project, the money will be used to buy buses to be plied on dedicated road tracks. The buses will run on routes from Surjani Town to Saddar, Safoora Goth to Saddar, Hawksbay to Gulberg, Baldia to Shershah and Orangi Town to the Board Office bus stop.
Whatever the allocations and the intentions, but the question remains that will the private transporters let this happen? Previously, the CNG and the Green Bus schemes both have faced a similar fate. The buses are now shabby with broken seats and no air conditioners. The plan of having e-ticketing booths took off and crashed within a few months.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 29th, 2012.