Friday August 12, 2022

Upgrading public transport can double revenue generation: Naeem

By Our Correspondent
June 26, 2022

Expressing grave concerns over the deteriorating situation of Karachi’s public transport, the Jamaat-e-Islami’s city chief on Saturday proposed a solution. Hafiz Naeemur Rehman said that modernising the road transport system can help almost double revenue generation from the metropolis.

“Karachi is the revenue generation engine of Pakistan, and putting in place a proper public transport is like oiling this vital engine, which is currently rusting due to a lack of care from the government,” Rehman said while addressing a meeting at Idara Noor-e-Haq, the JI’s secretariat.

He said that at the present moment, Karachi seems to be the only megacity of the world where the citizens do not have proper mass transit facilities.

He also said Karachi has a pathetically low number of minibuses that stop plying early in the evening, while after 11pm hardly any public transport bus is seen anywhere in the city.

He pointed out that people, and even families, have been seen walking to reach their destinations because after the hike in oil prices, hailing a taxi or a rickshaw has gone beyond the reach of an ordinary citizen.

“On dozens of approved minibus routes in Karachi, there’s not even a single minibus that plies, because the private transport mafia runs the commuting system of the city on their own terms.”

Rehman said that the closure of the Karachi Transport Corporation was the biggest conspiracy against the city and its people, but no serious study on this subject has been conducted as yet.

He said public transport is not just a civic service but also a great economic leverage. Quoting a report of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, he said public transport is more than just a way to move people around; it is a vehicle for opportunity, equity and a better quality of life.

“Every dollar invested in public transport can generate five dollars in economic returns, while every billion dollars invested can create 50,000 jobs,” he said quoting the report.

The JI leader said that the second crucial phase of the Green Line project from Numaish to Tower seems to have abandoned, as work on it has practically been halted since the last many months.

He said Green Line will not give optimal results until it is connected to the Tower area. He also said Green Line should ideally have stretched on to Gulbai and Shershah to facilitate millions of workers of the SITE Industrial Area.

Rehman said that now there is a coalition government in the Centre led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, so ignoring Green Line, a flagship project of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, simply does not make any sense.

He said the Sindh government’s Orange Line still seems a distant dream, adding that the provincial transport department has been marred with corruption and mismanagement.

He also said JI’s then mayor Naimatullah Khan had given Karachi a good public transport system by introducing green buses, but nobody knows where those buses had gone after his city government ended.

Rehman said that the surface railway commuting system, the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR), is the backbone of the public transport system of the city, and without it the locals’ commuting problems will never end. He regretted that Bangladesh is now working on an underground railway system in Dhaka, but in Karachi we are still struggling just to revive our decades-old KCR.

He pointed out that this just shows the level of priority attached to the public transport system, which is considered one of the key factors in boosting any urban economy.

The JI chief said that the study of public transport systems of the world shows that the top megacities of the world from London to Paris and from New York to Tokyo became great economic centres only after they turned around their commuting systems.

He demanded of the federal and provincial governments to pay attention to the public transport sector in Karachi, complete the lingering second phase of Green Line and revive KCR on topmost priority to facilitate the citizens of the megacity.