Yes, Karachi does need a Metro Bus service!
Nawaz Sharif’s visits to Karachi have been brief and mostly concerned with law and order. The last visit, however, was a bit different from the previous ones; the prime minister (PM) has announced to launch the Metro bus named Green Line for Karachi with a gigantic budget of Rs15 billion as reported by the media. He also supervised another important meeting at the Governor House, regarding other development projects in Karachi.
Millions of commuters, every day, have to rely on obsolete and dilapidated buses and recklessly driven Qingqi rickshaws to reach to their destinations and back. The beautiful bus stops that were installed by the city government have also been neglected. Last time the citizens of this great city saw any development work was under the mayor-ship of Mustafa Kamal and Pervez Musharraf. The restoration of so-called democracy in 2007 brought back the PPP and the local bodies system was rolled back; the reins of the city were handed to corrupt and inefficient administrators.
The green bus project, initiated by the ex-nazim, was discontinued in order to pacify the transport mafia which was being actively patronised by PPP and its ruling partner ANP. The K-IV and S-III water and sewage project, the Lyari express-way project and the garbage disposal projects were ignored throughout the five-year tenure and the city’s woes kept piling up. Throughout the “democratic” period, the Sindh government showed criminal negligence in ignoring the public service developmental projects of Karachi. Even after coming back to power on May 11, 2014, they continued to show lack of vision and interest. MQM was offered, or rather forced, to join the Sindh government with no significant portfolios and hence, no room to show performance.
This ‘step-motherly’ treatment has created a vacuum and PML-N is playing its cards really well by taking matters in its own hands. By announcing the development projects, Nawaz Sharif has taken the PPP leadership off-guard and if these projects materialise into something concrete PML-N will have a future in Karachi, possibly shrinking the PPP vote bank.
In recent meetings the PM was accompanied by a high powered PML-N delegation, but also separately met with the MQM officials to discuss related matters. This chain of events could mark a significant change in the political scenario of the country in the days to come. However, it is unclear whether this is an attempt by the PM to create a PML-N vote bank or an honest effort toward developing the metropolitan city. Only time will tell how sincere the Federal government is in providing any relief to the Karachiites.
In terms of the delay in the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR), the Sindh Chief Secretary stated that encroachments are the biggest obstacle. He informed the PM that the Sindh government needs massive funding to clear the area and relocate encroachments. This suggestion was taken into account and instructions were given to concerned departments. Directives were also given to expedite water and sewage related projects in the mega-city. Karachi Circular Railway, after its completion, would further ease the traffic related problems of Karachi.
The current transport system is inefficient and unsafe; a modern transport system with hydraulic doors, electronic ticketing and radio controlled communications systems, and seat by seat sitting arrangement is desperately required. With the red line, green line and the recently announced yellow line mass transit systems, it can be hoped that commuters coming from far flung areas will be able to reach the city centre and industrial areas in a timely manner. Moreover, with the announcement of K-IV project, the water woes of Karachiites will lessen to a great extent.
Karachi is a city that contributes towards the economy of Pakistan with a 69% revenue, it is a city which is home to people belonging to all four provinces, it is a city that feeds the poor and provides jobs and opportunities to millions of Pakistanis and is also considered one of the most charitable cities of the world, deserves an equally good lifestyle and amenities for its citizens. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.
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