Waiting in a massive traffic clog in the evening, when people try, impatiently, to reach their homes after a long tiresome day, one finds the motorcyclists, rickshaws and even bus drivers pushing their vehicles into the small empty spaces, thus further blocking the already clogged traffic. One silently watches these troublemakers or sometimes even curses them along with those responsible for the failure of traffic regulation in the city. Suffering in traffic clogs in Karachi has become a routine practice because the government has not done anything to come up with a permanent solution to this problem.
The government has constructed flyovers, underpasses and bridges but they are not sufficient for a city of more than 20 million souls and 3.6 million vehicles — both numbers are rapidly increasing. Each time the government faces criticism due to the persisting traffic and transport problems, it uses the cover of its plans to restart circular railways and bus rapid transit systems but each time, the projects go back into cold storage where they are forgotten. There is no doubt that a mass transit system will serve as a good solution to the problems faced by Karachi but in all honesty, we need to look for alternatives as the mass transit system has become a mere dream.
If the government wants to control the traffic flow on the existing road networks without bringing a new system into the equation, then it has to improve the current performance of the traffic police by increasing its strength and giving the force incentives to discourage the culture of bribery. Our government will have to increase traffic fine rates further as the previous increase proved to be insufficient. Cars being parked, legally and illegally, along the roads and intersections that obstruct traffic need to be removed. Schools cause massive traffic congestions in almost every part of the city because of the lack of proper school bus systems, while parents wait on roads for their children, so developing an effective, secure school bus system would be quite helpful. Plazas and shopping centres should not be allowed to operate without providing parking facilities to their visitors. Furthermore, removal of encroachments by roadside vendors and bus stands, and a continuous campaign to educate people regarding traffic rules and its importance for their safety are the needs of the day for casing traffic congestion.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 3rd, 2013.
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