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Sunday June 23, 2024

Killer roads

Potholed, neglected and narrow roads are a recipe for disaster

By Editorial Board
May 30, 2024
A representational ariel view of Karachis Naagan Chorangi flyover.— Facebook@NaganChowrangi/file
A representational ariel view of Karachi's Naagan Chorangi flyover.— Facebook@NaganChowrangi/file 

There is a roundabout in Karachi that is named after a snake. Locals say that the number of accidents at this junction was too high; like a snake, the road kept devouring whoever came closer to it, compelling them to give it an unusual name. Unfortunately, this is true for most of the country’s road infrastructure. Potholed, neglected and narrow roads are a recipe for disaster, but our authorities have vowed to not go beyond lip service. This inaction has once again resulted in a fatal accident in Balochistan’s Turbat where a bus travelling to Quetta fell into a ravine, on Wednesday (May 29). At least 28 passengers out of the 54 onboard died on the spot. Killer roads across Pakistan have been calling for the attention of authorities for decades. In this incident, a bus tyre burst and overturned the vehicle. Roads on the two sides of a ravine are generally narrow, and even the slightest change in a vehicle’s direction can lead to a big catastrophe.

For adventurous tourists who visit such places perhaps once in their lifetime, travelling on this road is a thrilling activity. But for residents, it is a death trap, and yet even after multiple pleas and protests, both the federal and provincial governments have done nothing to resolve the issue. After the incident, officials said that some critically injured patients would be airlifted to Quetta, if needed. This underscores the lack of public infrastructure in small cities. Any city whose road terrain is a little unusual should be equipped with high-quality medical facilities to ensure that no one loses their lives because of their lack of access to healthcare units.

Fatal accidents like this one are unfortunately a regular occurrence in Pakistan. It is disappointing that safe and well-equipped communication networks have never been a priority for our governments. Last year, the chairlift incident in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa put a spotlight on the perilous journey residents take to carry out their daily activities. The situation in the rest of the country is not any better. Policymakers must improve the country’s road infrastructure. We cannot afford any more such accidents. It is equally important to keep strict checks on private transporters; their licence to operate should be revoked if their buses and other vehicles do not pass quality checks. Good road connectivity and efficient public transport will not only reduce the number of fatal accidents but also enable people from all parts of the country to participate in various economic activities. Pakistan is ignoring an issue that has the potential to transform the country for the better. It is still not too late to change course.