KARACHI: The trend of sudden closure of the public transport, petrol pumps and gas stations during politically-motivated violence in the metropolis results in a nightmare for millions of commuters, who all of a sudden find them stranded in streets with no transport to go home.After the successful conspiracy to rob Karachi of the dependable surface rail-based urban transport system, Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) some two decades back, the city is left at the mercy of private road-based transporters, who run this public service sector to mint as much money as possible and that too with exposure to minimum possible risks.Whenever an important political leader or activist is target-killed in the city, which has now become almost a daily affair, gangs of armed men riding bikes resort to heavy aerial firing in residential and commercial areas to harass people and shopkeepers. Trained arsonists also roam on the roads and torch public transport and other vehicles with impunity. This systematic violence results in a widespread fear and harassment and soon all buses and minibuses vanish from the roads while petrol pumps and gas stations remain closed for the agony of millions of people.A dependable public transport is the hallmark of all urban cities; however, the vested interests and power-sharing political parties of Karachi have never worked seriously and sincerely to give the biggest city of the country an urban public transport worth its salt.
It is said the powerful lobby of private public transporters in Karachi successfully thwarted all efforts to improve the public transport system so as to continue their unchallenged monopoly. There can be no two opinions that the Karachi transport runners enjoy heavy margins of profit as their buses and minibuses always run packed with passengers with even commuters travelling on the roof tops. With the help of this windfall it is quiet easy to grease the palms of some corrupt bureaucrats and get blocked the efforts for pro-commuter legislations or implantation of traffic rules and motor vehicle laws, say Karachiites. They suspect that the revival of the KCR had been in limbo for about 10 years, because a powerful lobby with covert political support was there to create hurdles in the way of this vital project, considered a lifeline for Karachi’s urban transport.While the abrupt halt of minibuses torments commuters, the sudden closer of petrol pumps and gas stations creates severe miseries for motorists, especially motorcyclists. A large number of cars parked at roadside due to want of fuel and sweating motorcyclists dragging their bikes with empty fuel tanks are common scenes of Karachi roads whenever violence revisits the city.
The government must provide adequate security to public transport vehicles, fuel and gas stations in the city so as to save the citizens from these unnecessary troubles. It is a pity that the police seldom register cases against the culprits who create harassment with aerial firing and set public transport vehicles on fire. The police stations do have proper record of all troublemakers of their area, but the police bosses prefer to look the other way as they know that many of the snipers and arsonists enjoy strong political backing.Urban public transport systems play a pivotal role in economy of any city, as workforce could not reach their factories and workplaces unless the buses and minibuses ply on roads. Karachi sustains the loss of several billions of rupees per day whenever the city goes without public transport. In this grim scenario an early revival of the KCR should be the topmost priority of the government, besides introducing the promised wide-bodied CNG buses to mitigate the sufferings of Karachi commuters. – Dailytimes