close
Advertisement
Can't connect right now! retry

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!
 
July 11, 2020

Land disasters

Newspost

 
July 11, 2020

The CJP's anguish at the pathetic state of the Pakistan Railways (The News, July 10) is well placed and timely, much as things have been just horrid for years. The prominence of air crashes for numerous reasons tends to mask the outsized murderous mayhem that afflicts Pakistan's land transport. The spate of transportation disasters, both land and air are not only shameful but the situation portends many more. Many experts and common citizens have clamoured for major reform to ensure safety of public transport but nothing, absolutely nothing, seems to detract the government from its apathy and contempt for human life. Now, national ignominy in the international fora seems to have been added to the powers' perverse gloating. Strangely, there is virtually no debate on the land transport disaster that is a pervasive part of our lives. The Supreme Court's view that the Pakistan Railways needs major structural reform is also commendable. Virtually all sectors of our economy bear the brunt of English or History majors (and that too at a level that would embarrass any academic) handling complex technical areas. This fault line of incompetence and unabated lust for power runs through the way the public sector was born and mushroomed. The perpetration of gross incompetence is not limited to the civil servants, but in the case of Civil Aviation, is worsened by the dominance of uniformed airmen, a legacy of the Ayub Khan era. In such a structurally flawed, and competence starved environment, independence of any regulator remains a pipedream.

To add insult to injury, the ossified structures perpetrated by, and now destructively inherent in, the public sector restrict the rare brilliant managerial type to atone for these flaws with some creative management process. Fear of the new monster, NAB, is justly added to mounds of obsolete, decrepit procedural handcuffs to justify this. There is a dire need for both serious regulatory reform and the creation of an independent National Transport Safety Board with investigative competence and safety advisory responsibilities. In tandem, a strong, independent regulator aided by a professional accident investigation entity can move our public transport catastrophe towards both sanity and safety. I hope the CJ will extend his domain from the Railways to all public transport in Pakistan and save both avoidable shame and needless deaths.

Prof Wasif M Khan

Lahore