KARACHI, July 1: The city government has chalked out an elaborate programme for the gradual phasing out of insecure and worn-out buses ultimately getting these replaced with 8,000 new CNG buses in the next four years.
This was stated by the City Naib Nazim Nasreen Jalil at a seminar organised by the International Peace Commission here on Saturday.
Speaking on the occasion she said that the federal government was offering assistance in the form of Rs4 billion to help the local transporters to get these buses imported at subsidised rates.
The city government itself was said to have earmarked Rs500 million for the scheme, under its current fiscal year budget to be complimented with an annual allocation of Rs10 billion for the next three consecutive years.
Ms Jalil said that in the next four years the metropolis would finally get rid of atmospheric pollution caused by smoke emitting vehicles. She reiterated that the city government was taking all necessary steps to contain environmental degradation, with specific reference to atmospheric pollution in Karachi.
Reiterating the city government's strong commitment to provide citizens a healthy and clean environment, she said that it was with the very objective that the solid waste management scheme was being streamlined through the involvement of national and foreign investors. Private sector is being engaged, she said mentioning that the garbage transfer station is part of the very efforts.
Work on elevated expressway to start from September
KARACHI: The ground work including piling for the 24km elevated expressway from Jinnah Bridge to Quaidabad will start in next two months as all the surveys including topographical and traffic survey has been completed, informed sources told The News.
City Nazim Syed Mustafa Kamal elaborated the newsmen on the elevated expressway, the biggest ever project in the metropolis undertaken by any foreign firm. The elevated expressway is being constructed on build operate and transfer (BOT) basis by the Malaysian firm and for a period of one year, the firm would collect the toll tax as per agreement inked with the city government.
An official of the IJM Corporation disclosed that the drawings of the project will be sent to the City District Government Karachi (CDGK) for approval. He said that as this is a highly technical process, now tenders would be floated for the firms to conduct soil testing of the specified area to measure the load capacity of the soil.
The official said that after the soil capacity test, the firm would start structural designing and feasibility of the plan, adding that piling would start on different spots of Shahrah-e-Faisal, by August this year. The delegation also met EDOs concerned of the city government.
The local engineers and labour force would also be engaged in the project along with some experts from Malaysia. The project includes construction of 24km long, 25 meter wide expressway having three lanes on each side.
The project costing $225 million, will be completed in three years time. Six interchanges will be provided on the 24km long elevated expressway at Quaidabad Intersection, Star Gate, HIR road Shahrah-e-Quaideen, Hotel Metropole and Jinnah Bridge (Native Jetty).
In the first phase of the project, the feasibility study and designing of the project would be completed in a period of six months. The second phase of the project includes engineering, procurement, financing, construction, operation, maintenance and transfer of the project.
The CDGK will handover to the IJM Corporation, physical possession of the site within 60 days together with necessary rights for the implementation of the first phase. The city Nazim has already announced that the foundation stone laying ceremony would take place on August 8.
(By Fasahat Mohiuddin, The News-4, 02/07/2006)
Two overhead bridges, civic centre planned for Malir KARACHI, July 1: Two overhead bridges, a civic centre, a desalination plant and a mortuary would be among the major projects to be undertaken shortly in the Malir Town under various uplift schemes.
Moreover, a huge amount of Rs80million would be spent on provision of water and sewerage network in various UCs of the town, to be followed by construction of a network of roads and streets at a cost of Rs220 million from federal grants whose PC-1 has already been submitted by Federal Minister Shamim Siddiqui and is likely to be approved shortly.
The foundation of overhead bridges is expected to be laid next month and would greatly facilitate urban and rural people in Malir and Bin Qasim towns.
One of the bridges would be built on Sharea Faisal and Begum Khursheed Road at Malir Kala Board bus stop and the other on Thado nullah in Khokhrapar, connecting the urban areas of Malir with Memon Goth and also linking Superhighway. These projects would be undertaken under the ADP by the city government.
At a post-budget press briefing, Town Nazim Ansar Sheikh said in view of the increasing traffic volume on Begum Khursheed Road, motorists had been suffering delays both on Sharea Faisal and on Begum Khursheed Road. It would, on the one hand, ensure signal free flow of traffic on both the roads and save travel time.
Speaking about budgetary allocations for the year 2006-07, he said the town council in its budget session held with Naib Nazim Sharafat Ali in the chair approved Rs380.297million budget.
An amount of Rs121 million has been set aside for development works while Rs124.10 million have been allocated for non-development expenditure, indicating a surplus of Rs8,70,000 million, he informed.
Mr Shiekh said that owing to the receipt of a meager sum of Rs230 million from the Sindh government as matching grant in lieu of octroi, the town had been facing a severe shortage of funds for uplift works.
He said that the other sources of income of the town included receipt of Rs40 million from the city government, Rs30.3 million from the town’s own income and an expected income of Rs70.99 million from the town. But of the entire amount available and after deduction of Rs260.11 million non-development expenditure, a paltry amount of Rs120 million is available with the town which is insufficient to carry out uplift works in the town, Mr Sheikh informed.
However, Federal Minister Shamim Siddiqui, MPAs Hamiduz Zafar and Farida Baloch and the CDGK have promised to help out public representatives in carrying out development work in the town.
Explaining, he said of the Rs230 million received as zila tax matching grant, an amount of Rs120.48 million goes to salaries, Rs50.92 million is paid for garbage disposal contractor and Rs40 million has been set aside for repair and maintenance, Rs30.78 million for contingencies, Rs10 million for buildings and roads, Rs20 million for parks services and Rs10 million for mechanical and engineering.He said in view of cash crisis, the town would have to levy taxes to boost its income. The taxes have been proposed to be levied on mobile phone towers, disposal of ST and amenity plots, and issuance of NOC for residential commercial project/ society plots, and granting permission for utilisation of town’s plots for setting up of marriage lawns, petrol and CNG stations and for other development purposes, and hawkers zones would be set up. However, the town nazim faced stiff resistance by newsmen over town’s decision to regularise illegal constructions at Liaquat Market.
He said among the other welfare projects to be undertaken included setting up of two model schools in the current fiscal and award of scholarships to position holders in schools. An amusement park would be built near the town office which would be a unique park.
Lamenting the previous leadership of the town, he said despite issuance of a huge amount in the past, they indulged in an over-expenditure of Rs30 million which the town had to pay after our takeover.
(By Zaheer Ahmed Khan, Dawn-19, 02/07/2006)
Work on Corridor-I to start in August
KARACHI, July 1: The city government has decided to start construction of the much-awaited mass transit project Corridor-I, from Merewether Tower to Sohrab Goth, from next month.
Sources in the city government told Online that the City Nazim, Syed Mustafa Kamal, had directed the concerned department to complete evaluation of the proposals, submitted by two companies, by the end of July so that work could start on the project.
It may be mentioned that the project has been in pending for the last 20 years due to scarcity of funds and unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles.
The construction of a mass transit system in the city had been planned after a girl student, Bushra Zaidi, was crushed to death by a speedy bus in 1986, which was followed by the worst ethnic riots in the city taking the lives of many people.
Sources said the city government had planned construction of a light train mass transit system Corridor-I on build, operate and transfer (BOT) basis. Three companies had offered their proposals for the project.
A proposal by a Chinese company was dropped, as it had offered to build a light rail system on credit finance basis, the sources said. The other two companies had submitted their offers on BOT bases. The M-Trans had offered to a build a monorail mass transit system while the International Development Company (IDC) had offered a light rail mass transit system.
Sources said the city government would prefer the IDC’s offer, as it had followed the city government’s tender condition, which desired a light rail mass transit system.
An offer of a monorail mass transit system is also under scrutiny, as the concerned company has submitted two options; one to construct the technology on Corridor-I, and the other to build it in other parts of the city, the sources said.
The city government has appointed a consultant to examine the financial and technical documents submitted by the local and foreign companies for construction of the Corridor-I.
Vehicle fitness plan awaits approval KARACHI: The citizens are still waiting for the approval of a summary sent to the Sindh Chief Minister to privatise Fitness Certificate Centre with the use of modern technology to upgrade the fitness of vehicles.
More than three months have lapsed but the summary is yet to be approved.
City Nazim Syed Mustafa Kamal had envisaged introducing hassle-free transport service in the city to check the fitness of vehicles by utilising modern technology.
Kamal said that a summary in this regard has been sent to the Chief Minister House and hopefully approval by the quarter concerned will be effective very soon. He said this during a visit to CPLC office at the Governor’s House here the other day.
While expressing his concern he said it is surprising that those vehicles which are unfit to ply in other parts of the country get fitness certificate in Karachi which causes environmental hazards for the citizens.
He said 8,000 CNG buses manufactured by an Australian company would be brought to Karachi in the next financial year.
Mustafa said that the city government is considering constituting a consumers safety council and in this regard a summary has also been prepared to take serious action against those who are involved in adulteration and against those who are involved in overcharging by penalising them six months imprisonment with a fine of Rs 50,000.
(The News-2, 03/07/2006)
CNG price up by Rs2 on rising gas tariff KARACHI, July 3: CNG dealers have started charging two rupees more per kg from Monday to Rs33 from Rs31 per kg from vehicle owners following an increase in gas rates by the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) July 2, 2006.
According to CNG Station Owners Association of Pakistan (Csoap), the CNG rate has been revised due to increase in gas price by Rs23.63 Mmbtu to Rs264.54 from Rs240.91 per Mmbtu.
In January, 2006 the CNG station owners had enhanced the CNG price by Rs2-2.40 per kg depending on the area location from Rs29 per kg.
However, there is a difference of opinion on concept of saving in CNG while using in automobiles as compared to petrol. General Secretary Csoap Muhammad Abbas Sajid said that consumers using CNG in cars enjoyed 55 per cent saving in terms of money as compared to petrol.
To a query as to why the rush of cars has not decreased at the pumps, he said that the CNG stations were receiving eight pound per square inch (PSI) of pressure from Sui Southern Gas Company Limited (SSGCL) as against the demand of 15 PSI.
He said that Karachi had limited pumps providing CNG facility, which do not match the rising demand. He said it was hard to set up a CNG station owing to high price of land and red tape in the bureaucratic system.
In contrast to Csoap stance CNG Dealers Association chairman Abdul Sami Khan offered a different view, saying there was still a saving of 38 per cent in using CNG in cars as compared to petrol. The percentage of saving fluctuates with the increase in petrol and CNG rates, he added.
He said that the SSGCL demanded extra money from the station owners for bringing gas pressure to 15 PSI from 8 PSI as it says that it has to lay extra pipeline. The company, however, said that it would not charge extra money from some CNG stations (15 pc of the total) where pipeline facility was available.
Mr Sami claimed that more than 90 per cent pumps in Punjab received gas at 15 PSI pressure from Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Limited. However, he claimed, that some station owners, not members, were charging Rs34-35 per kg in Punjab after the gas price hike from Sunday.
Besides, he said the government last month had reduced the number of departments issuing NOC for setting up CNG stations to four from 16, which may encourage new investors to set up more stations. He added that the City government had granted permission for setting up CNG stations at 600 yards but it takes more than one year for the investor to get the permission.
While CNG is getting popular owing to saving benefit in terms of money – petrol consumption in the country has been on the decline. In July-May 2005-06, petrol intake plunged to 1.1 million tons as compared to 1.2 million tons in the same period of last fiscal.
Dispensers at many petrol pumps now receive less number of cars as a sizable number of vehicles have been converted into CNG. Only motorcycle owners are seen in big rush at the pumps as number of bikes sold in 2005-06 stood at around 700,000 units. Three years back, total bike sales were only 100,000 units, thanks to the entry of the Chinese bikes into the market, which are cheaper by Rs19,000--20,000 as compared to Honda CDI 70cc of Rs54,000.
According to Economic Survey 2005-06, some 930 CNG stations (as on May 2006) are operational in the country, while 200 are under construction. By the end of April 2006, about one million vehicles had been converted into CNG as against 700,000 units converted during the last year, up by 43 per cent.
The Survey says that an investment of Rs20 billion had been made in the CNG sector and Rs2 billion are in pipeline. The CNG industry has created 20,000 jobs. Pakistan has become the leading country in Asia and the third largest user of CNG in the world after Argentina and Brazil.Because of big saving in terms of consumption and money, only few per cent people are booking the locally assembled petrol version cars. An executive in Pak Suzuki Motor Company Limited (PSMCL) said that the company was receiving 90 per cent booking of CNG cars compared to 70 per cent last year and 60 per cent two years back.
Even the passionate buyers of used imported cars are eager to install CNG kits in their vehicles since petrol prices have jacked up phenomenally in the last few years. On June 30, 2001, petrol was available at Rs33.81 as compared to Rs57.70 per litre now, showing a rise of 70 per cent.
(By Aamir Shafaat Khan, Dawn-9, 04/07/2006)
Completion of underpasses delayed KARACHI: The three underpasses of the city cannot be completed by the scheduled date and their completion might be delayed by several months due to some technical flaws.
He said that work on the biggest and longest underpass at Ibn-e-Sina Road is in progress. This was officially announced by EDO, Works and Services, Sarfaraz Ali Shah, while talking to newsmen at his office on Monday.
The EDO, while giving the details of the delay, said that no one could be held responsible for the delay of these underpasses like the city government, water board officers, contractors and consultants delay in the construction of underpasses as they worked round the clock on these projects.
He said that all these under-construction underpasses had utility lines running underneath them and during excavation these lines suddenly got exposed resulting in the delay of the projects.
Asked as to why the consultant who was appointed failed to point out the utility lines in his report, he was unable to give satisfactory reply. He said in future it has been decided that the consultant would not be given the job of underpasses and flyovers putting him on black list and said any further action against the consultant was out of question.
The EDO said a one-year agreement was reached with the contractor for the completion of the underpasses. He said these projects had a stipulated one-year completion period and during the excavation 54 inches diameter sewerage line was also detected and the Water Board was not aware of this huge line and said in the history of Karachi never ever such huge line was laid down.
During work on the Liaquatabad underpass water seeped in from the ground. A 132 KV KESC line was also detected for which we had to face serious problems. Replying to a question that why any action was not taken against any officer due to the delay in underpasses, he said when no one was responsible for delay, action was out of question.
He said due to this nobody would resign, including city Nazim. He said Nazimabad underpass work was started on March 11, Liaquatabad under pass on March 8 and all these under passes were scheduled to completed in first week of July.
EDO works and services said Nazimabad underpass and Liaquatabad underpass one track for traffic will be opened on August 14 and Ghareebabad underpass will also be opened before August 14.
He said but due to relocation of utility lines exposed after excavation for underpasses for which department highly regrets. Despite all these circumstances credit goes to City Nazim Syed Mustafa Kamal.
(By Fasahat Mohiuddin, The News-4, 04/07/2006)
Rise in gas price The increase of almost ten per cent in the natural gas tariff for domestic, industrial and commercial users, effective retrospectively from July 1, doesn't look very good for consumers. According to a notification of the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra), the tariff for Wapda, KESC power stations and other electricity companies has been increased by 15.9 per cent while one Wapda power station in Faisalabad has been exempted. This increase is sure to add to the misery of the ordinary consumer because it may well lead to a rise in electricity prices as well at some time in the near future. In addition to that, the millions of motor vehicle owners who own cars that run on CNG can also expect the price of this relatively cheaper fuel to rise further (it was raised a couple of months ago). The reason for the hike is thought to be an increase in the international price of oil. However, according to one report, both Sui Southern and Sui Northern will approximately earn around Rs10 billion extra each because of the higher tariff. But who will explain this all to the ordinary consumer, who will now have to pay more for a very basic utility. Besides, the natural gas is produced domestically and hence consumers who do not have a good understanding of economics are unlikely to find any rationale for the increase.
In fact, since the tariff for commercial and industrial users has been raised as well, one can expect that the price of all goods and services may rise since gas is a widely used input in industry and trade. Ending a subsidy on this commodity may make sense economically -- and is in any case a demand of the World Bank -- but considerations of equity also needs to be made since the bulk of domestic gas users are by and large low- and middle-income families. Besides, a country like Pakistan, with around a quarter of people living below the poverty line, must consider the possibility of capping the price of a utility as basic as natural gas which is used as a fuel, for heating and for cooking. Also, the role of Ogra in all this needs to be examined. It seems that the regulator regularly fails to do its job of protecting the interests of all stakeholders because it conveniently chooses to ignore -- when acting on requests for tariff increases -- the views of the end user.
(The News-7, 04/07/2006)
Underpasses to be opened by November KARACHI: District Co-ordination Officer (DCO) Fazlur Rehman said on Tuesday that both tracks of the under construction Gharibabad, Liaquatabad and Nazimabad underpasses will be opened for traffic by end of October or early November this year, while the construction of a track of the three underpasses at Ibn-e-Sina Road will be completed by August this year.
To a query, the DCO said that Airport-Site corridor would be signal-free according to the vision of the city Nazim.
He said that seven big projects, including four bridges and three underpasses, were under way at this corridor, adding that work on all the three underpasses was going on round-the-clock after their groundbreaking.
Fazl said that the main obstacle in carrying out the projects was the underground utility network, as there was no master plan regarding utility services. He said that a 33-inch and 54-inch diameter sewerage lines and 48-inch diameter water supply lines in Liaquatabad had been shifted by KW&SB in a record time period.
(The News-2, 05/07/2006)
Malir Town drops plan to remodel roundabout KARACHI, July 4: The municipal administration of Malir Town has surrendered to the pressure of influential traders and abandoned the plan of remodeling the main Liaquat Market roundabout and connecting it to Sharea Faisal as an alternative route.The plan involved demolition of encroachments from Liaquat Market’s roundabout and its surrounding areas, construction of a beautiful roundabout and a double road linking Sharea Faisal via Malir Colony.
The plan was conceived in the 80s with a view to provide another access to motorists from Malir Colony and Khokhrapar to Sharea Faisal. Unlike other two routes, this proposed route was a direct link thus reducing travel time to reach Sharea Faisal.
But, the town authorities have now dropped the plan. They have decided to regularise over 300 unauthorised shops near the roundabout. It would be against the policy of the present city government leadership which is strictly against encroachments on government land.
The shops were built illegally by Haqiqi activists during 90s and sold to shopkeepers. The land mafia had earlier demolished a small KWSB office near the roundabout and built a car parking and later built shops.
Although the buyers did know that shops were located on an unauthorized place and could be demolished at any moment, they continued to occupy the roundabout. Most of the shops are being used by the Laiquat Market traders as their godowns and warehouses. The rest of the shops have been turned into food outlets or cosmetic items and gift shops.
On behalf of the DMC East, former SDM of Model Colony Farhan Junejo had prepared drawings and sketches for demolition of shops. Even marking was done by the department concerned but as he sought approval of the DC concerned, it was delayed owing to law and order situation. After a couple of months, the devolution setup was introduced by the government.
Under the new setup, the former two nazims, backed by the Jamaat-i-Islami, neither demolished shops nor did they make any move to regularise these unauthorized shops.
The present town council has now decided to regularise this roundabout as a measure to boost its income because of financial crisis being faced by the town.
However, this would on the one hand deprive the area people of an extra route to Sharea Faisal, on the other hand, would result in congestion at Laiquat Market area.
About the plan to regularise shops, area residents say that if the town authorities can not demolish this roundabout, they should not take any quick decision and leave the issue to the next council.
Area people further say that the city government should provide extra funds to the town, as the town was taking this step to boost its income. Besides, they suggest the city government to take over the project and initiate work on the plan so that area people and motorists could heave a sigh of relief.
Traffic mess despite low car-people ratio RAWALPINDI, July 4: Despite a manifold increase in car production in the country, Pakistan still stands relatively low in terms of motorisation when compared globally and even to its neighbours, according to official statistics.
The statistics reveal that Pakistan has only eight cars per thousand persons. In comparison, China has 10 cars, India 12 cars, Indonesia 21 cars, Iran 23 cars, Sri Lanka 25 cars, the Philippines 31 cars and Turkey 67 cars per thousand persons.
Since 2001-02 the automobile market is growing rapidly by over 40 per cent per annum and if an average annual growth of 30 per cent is maintained, Pakistan’s market will cross the milestone of 500,000 units by the year 2010, according to Finance Ministry’s latest Economic Survey.
Even with eight cars per thousand persons, roads in urban areas, particularly the major cities, experience traffic jams and vehicles are seen in long queues on major highways.
Traffic jams on the Murree Road have become a routine despite spending of billions of rupees on its widening and the construction of an underpass at Committee Chowk. The construction of a flyover on the Murree Road from Marrir Hasan Chowk to Chandni Chowk would take years but might give some hope for the redressal of growing traffic mess.
The traffic situation on major highways in Islamabad has also been worsening. Though the Capital Development Authority is engaged in expanding the road network in the city, traffic jams on all intersections compel planners to think of constructing flyovers in the federal capital.
The present scenario shows the federal and provincial governments and development authorities in the twin cities have not paid the needed attention to build and improve road infrastructure and have ignored the projections of population growth rate and urbanisation.
At the same time, no serious thought was given to alternate means of transportation to lessen the traffic load on roads.
The auto industry in Pakistan is growing fast and may soon begin to achieve economies of scale.
The tremendous rise in automobile demand has resulted in increased production, giving a healthy impetus to the industrial output and generating over 150,000 direct employment opportunities besides contributing tax revenue to the national exchequer, says the survey.
Production of cars in first nine months of 2005-06 increased from 87,104 to 112,478 units. Another 16,885 different types of vehicles were imported during July 2005 to February 2006 under transfer of residence, baggage and gift schemes as compared to only 5,177 units in the same period last year, showing an increase of 230 per cent.
Empowering traffic cops
I FELT very bad the other day while passing through I.I Chundrigar Road. The mini-bus driver crossed the road on red signal and the traffic officer tried to stop him, but the bus driver did not stop. To add insult to injury, he abused the officer while going.
This thing would be unheard of in developed countries. The traffic officer in the US have so much power that he has the authority to shoot down the individual if he does not stop the vehicle, once asked to stop by the traffic officer.
Why would a violator in Pakistan stop his vehicle when he knows the poor traffic officer does not have a bike, no gun to stop him? It is this fear that people follow traffic rules in developed countries.
It is human psychology that they would use the freedom to undo advantage if it is not checked. We seem to blame the traffic police officer for any traffic mess, but these poor people do not have the resources or authority to implement the traffic rules in a proper manner.
So, who is to blame? In my opinion it is the local government at fault here. I sincerely hope that the traffic police officers are given authority and resources to rectify this situation and the higher-ups should also have checks and balances to monitor if the traffic officers are doing their job in an efficient manner.
ADNAN ABBASI, Karachi
Tragic road accident
WHIILE working at Jinnah hospital, I’ve seen hundreds of cases and have become accustomed to blood and dead bodies that come in and it has actually made me stronger.
But nothing could have prepared me for the emergency that arose some time ago. A man and woman were riding on a motorcycle on Kala Pul when a speeding bus hit them, and the bus driver sped away before he could get caught. The people nearby rushed to their aid and brought them to the hospital. I was there when they were brought in and as I made my way into the room, I stopped dead in my tracks. There was screaming and sobbing, everyone was on full alert since the condition of the couple was serious. The husband had suffered deep gashes in his forehead, arms and legs and had fractured his right shoulder but was conscious.
His wife, however, was in serious condition. She was haemorrhaging severely and was completely covered with blood. She had a gaping wound in her head through which you could see her brain. Her husband kept sobbing and begging us to please save his wife and kept getting away from doctors so he could see her. The staff finally got him under control and assured him his wife was being well taken care of but he managed to get away and went to his wife, held her hand and called out her name but she didn’t respond.
They comforted him and told him that they would do everything they could to save his wife and when he calmed down, they took him away for an x-ray. Two minutes later, his wife died. The room fell into a dead silence. The doctors had done everything they could but her injuries were too severe and they could not stop her from haemorrhaging. Her husband came a few minutes later and the doctor told him that his wife had passed away. His wife was only 20 years old and they had recently been married.
It took every ounce of courage and strength I had to keep from crying. Everyone was visibly upset. As everyone cleaned up in the room, one of the senior doctors told us that he had been in the emergency for 10 years and seen many deaths but none stirred him like this one.
This terrible tragedy could have been avoided if the bus driver had followed the law and kept within the speed limit. And if the couple had been wearing helmets, their injuries would have been less severe and an innocent life could have been saved.
What is happening to the people of this country? Doesn’t anyone care about their precious lives or the lives others? What has happened to the lawmakers and law enforcements? If the police had not been negligent, they probably could have stopped the speeding bus and fined him heavily. This unfortunate incident could have been avoided.
SANA ZUBAIRI, Karachi
Chaotic transport system
ONE is not surprised by the Planning Commission’s disclosure that Pakistan’s “inadequate and inefficient transport system” costs the country an estimated Rs230 billion annually — which is about 8.5 per cent of the GDP. The cost to the economy, the Planning Commission’s annual report says, stems from congestion, poor quality of roads and the inadequacy of the supporting infrastructure. These logistic constraints, the report says, inhibit the competitiveness of the country’s trade and industrial development. The reason for this state of affairs is the absence of a proper transport policy. This is astonishing for a sector which employs 2.3 million people and contributes 10 per cent to the GDP. The report concerns road transport as well as railways, shipping and aviation, but the road transport accounts for 90 per cent and 96 per cent respectively of all passenger and freight traffic.
The chaos one sees in our cities stems from the absence of mass transit systems in cities like Karachi and Lahore and lack of an integrated transport system. At present, road transport, railways and air services operate independently of each other. This is a source of inconvenience to passengers who may want to use all three modes of transport on a given occasion. One can see places like London’s Victoria Station, where bus, train, tube and inter-city coach services operate in tandem with each other. As it exists today, Pakistan’s transport system operates on its own, and government controls exist only on paper. In fact, transporters have turned themselves into mafias and flout traffic rules at will. Notice, for instance, the existence of unauthorised inter-city bus termini in the middle of residential localities in Karachi. One hopes the PC will come up with a comprehensive, long-term plan for developing an integrated transport system — one which is fast, comfortable and cheap.