Safety hazard: Bus drivers remove ladders to keep commuters off roofs

Measure taken to discourage people from climbing onto the bus rooftops.

Our Correspondent October 14, 2013
Violation: 500 rupees is the fine on buses caught with passengers on their rooftops. PHOTO: PPI/FILE

KARACHI: Transporters have decided to remove ladders from buses in an attempt to prevent people from climbing onto bus rooftops.

The increased pressure from the traffic police has caused public transporters to remove ladders from their vehicles in an attempt to discourage citizens from climbing onto the rooftops of buses. Karachi Transport Ittehad (KTI), the body that governs transport buses in the city, has sent letters to all its members, instructing bus owners to remove the ladders immediately.

"The traffic police want to stop people from travelling on the rooftop of buses, which is why we are removing the ladders that people use to climb," said KTI general secretary Syed Mehmood Afridi.

Traffic police chief Ghulam Qadir Thebo told The Express Tribune that police are conducting a drive against passengers travelling on rooftops. A total of 31,630 challans have been issued to buses since the start of the initiative, according to Thebo. The public transport system is reflective of the city, he claimed. While the government is aware of the shortage of public transport vehicles, it should not be used as an excuse by the public to endanger their lives by climbing onto rooftops, he added.

The decision was taken by the transporters after they  had a meeting with police officials last week, said Afridi. While he promised full cooperation to the police, Afridi was not convinced that this will solve the transport problem since the city's transport demands are not being met.

He felt that more vehicles are needed in order to prevent people from climbing onto rooftops. Qingqi vehicles and rickshaws can be a solution to the problem if regulated properly, he suggested. Contrary to popular belief, transporters actually lose money due to the overloading of buses. Overloading vehicles damages them and the cost of repair far outweighs the money made from overloading passengers, he explained.

A W-11 driver, Asghar Khan, was also of the same opinion. Removing these ladders will not prevent people from climbing onto the rooftops, he said. The passengers insist on travelling on rooftops due to the heat and prefer sitting on the roof due to the suffocating environment inside the bus, said Khan. He also claimed that fighting with the passengers is also of no avail even though they are often charged a fine of Rs500 for the faults of their passengers. Khan said that this problem is at its worst during peak hours when people are trying to get to work in the morning or in the evening when they are going back.

"Everyone has to reach his home on time," said Korangi resident Kashif Hameed. "When you wait for the bus and you don't find a seat inside five consecutive buses, then you will definitely opt to travel on the rooftop."

A University of Karachi student, Sadam Hussain, who makes the long journey to the university from his home in Keamari every day, blamed the bus conductors. They overfill the buses, disregarding passenger safety and comfort, he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 15th, 2013.


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