Colour code demanded for Karachi busesSeptember 1, 2013
Karachi: Karachi unlike other urban cities of the world allows public transport buses of different colour to ply on roads, which gives a negative civic image. Strict implementation of colour code for Karachi buses would give the public transport sector of the city a better and disciplined look.
President National Forum for Environment and Health Naeem Qureshi said all over the world public transport buses are painted in prescribed colours. For example London is known for its red coloured public transport buses; however, in Karachi there is no colour code for the buses and minibuses, which gives the city roads a chaotic look.
He regretted giving Karachiites better service delivery is not amongst the priorities of provincial government. Quoting the example of Lahore, he said the provincial government of Punjab has given their citizens one of the best bus transit systems of the region. He said even before this Metro bus system air-conditioned buses used to ply on Lahore routes charging Rs20 per passenger. He said Karachi deserves a better public transport system but the provincial government lacks such vision and commitment.
He said the transport department of government of Sindh and other concerned departments should order that all public transport buses and minibuses are painted in official colour code. He said preferably there should be one colour code, red, for all buses, minibuses, coaches, taxis and rickshaws. Any public transport vehicles painted in other colour should not be allowed to play in the city.
National Trade Unions Federation Deputy General Secretary Nasir Mansoor, said road discipline is the first step to streamline public transport system in Karachi. He said in past the public transport buses used to follow the colour code. For example big KTC buses used to be pained in red and minibuses and vans in bright yellow and white. He said due to inefficiency of the transport department and traffic police now no public transport bus follows the official colour code.
He said bettering and streamlining public transport would benefit low-income people. Public transport is used all over the world mostly by working class people and this sector is either run by the government or subsidized by it to ensure smooth and cost effective mobility of labors, he said. He said when a labour reaches factory after two hour agonizing travel on footboard of some overcrowded minibuses what productivity one could expects from this tried and depressed worker. He recalled once the public transport system of Sindh with big fleets of Sindh Road Transport Corporation SRTC and Karachi Transport Corporation KTC was considered as best in the region but the corrupt politicians and greedy bureaucracy deliberately destroyed it to benefit what he called a transport mafia.
Karachi is the only urban city of the world where commuters travel on the rooftops of minibuses. These shamelessly overcrowded minibuses could be seen on all city routes, plying with impunity, violating all road rules. The traffic police do stop these minibuses, but only to get a small bribe of Rs10 to Rs20, or in rare cases issuing them ticket for a negligible fine, which the negligent drivers accept gladly. Unless the fine of load passengers on rooftops of minibuses is Rs5000 or more per violation this malpractice could not be stopped.
Sadly, the provincial government is not serious to end this violation, despite the fact that the Supreme Court of Pakistan during hearing of Karachi law and order case had clearly instructed to remove roofracks from all minibuses in Karachi.
In Karachi the public transport buses and minibuses are very old. They should be in some scrap yard instead of running on city roads if the provincial government strictly implements the vehicle fitness laws. In all countries and even in other cities of Pakistan including Lahore and Peshawar there is a restriction of plying very old buses on roads but in Karachi obsolete model buses, termed as ‘first world war class buses’ by Karachi Transport Ittehad president Syed Irshad Ahmed Bukhari are allowed to run on road. These dangerously old buses emit lot of smoke, aggravating pollution level in the city, but the environment department turns the blind eye to this issue.
There is a huge demand of public transport buses in Karachi, but as the private transporters are not introducing new buses due to cost factor and also some policy restrictions, makeshift Chingchi rickshaws and 14seater improvised public transport rickshaws have made inroads. Presently, thousands of these Chingchi and improvised rickshaws are plying on main roads including the M A Jinnah Road and University Road. These Chingchi and improvised rickshaws charge fare of Rs10 per passenger and offer rural type shabby public transport system is a shame for Karachi, one of the top 10 mega cities of the world.
Mahmood Hamid, president All Pakistan Organisation of Small Traders and Cottage Industries APOSTCI Karachi chapter said successive governments in Karachi had spent lavishly to build road infrastructures, without provision of better buses to run on them. He said a proper colour code for public transport vehicles in Karachi would not only better the city looks, but also improve the image of governance as better road discipline would give a positive message to citizens.