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September 13, 2006

Overcrowded buses continue to irk commuters


September 13, 2006

KARACHI: Overcrowding in public transport has created several problems for the commuters especially those, who wholly rely on buses, minibuses and coaches.

The female commuters have to suffer more than their male counterparts. The condition of public transport buses in Karachi is appalling. They are crammed with passengers especially during the rush hours.

The ironed clothes and polished shoes of office-goers commuters used to be wrinkled and blotchy while travelling in buses and minibuses overcrowded with passengers. For female commuters, there is a small separate compartment with seating capacity of less than dozen. But the bus conductor and drivers are skilful enough to squeeze up to two-dozen females commuters in this compartment.

These females are often disturbed by indecent attitude of male commuters. Despite having a exist door at the back many male commuters prefer to pass through the women’s compartment in a bid to rub shoulders with them. Most of the female commuters feel themselves insecure, as majority of bus owners do not implement government’s decision of partitioning female compartment for that of males.

The lack of barrier between the compartment of male and female commuters result in sexual harassment of female commuters in the shape of indecent looks and remarks and frequent pushing. The female commuters have often raised protest against their sexual harassment in public transport vehicles but their complaints seemed falling on deaf ears.

Faryal, 22, a student of Karachi University in this regard says, “It is daunting task for female commuters to board on overcrowded buses in the morning or evening. She says she has to often quarrel with men, who occupy the seats in female compartments.

She says it is agonising to wait for about 30 minutes at the bus stop to catch a bus. “I prefer to take two buses rather than one in order to avoid wasting my time waiting for the particular bus.” She also

complaints about male commuters, standing in close vicinity of female compartment in packed buses, trying to physically contact female commuters whenever possible. She said that ironically the ‘point buses’ of the Karachi University had no separate partition for female students.

The drivers often ignore traffic rules and public transport vehicles run in an undisciplined and risky manner creating chaos. The notorious over-speeding of public transport has claimed many lives in the city. All it requires is a sudden brake to make those perched on the roof or clinging to the door to fall from the moving bus.

The majority of traffic cops ignore blatant traffic violation of bus and minibus drivers, provided to them Rs20 handed as bribe, which they shamelessly accept in presence of commuters. The Karachiites have urged that the compartment for ladies should be separated from the male compartment by an iron-sheet in such a way that no one could pass through it and no physical contact between the passengers of two compartments were possible.

They have requested that the number of bus routes should be increased and bus owners should be made bound to ply more vehicles on each route. They also suggested that the project of Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) should be revived to divert commuters’ pressure from the road transport, besides re-introducing tram system in busy downtown area.

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