Terms provincial capital a ‘political orphan’
Bloomberg, a US-based news agency, declared on Tuesday Karachi’s public transport system the worst in the world
Public transport serves about 42% of Karachi’s commuters in decades-old buses, the roads are filled with potholes, and not all traffic signals are functional, according to a report.
It mentioned that MA Jinnah Road, which connects central Karachi to the port, constantly faces severe traffic jams.
“Karachi, despite its importance, is a political orphan,” said Arsalan Ali Faheem, a consultant at Development Alternatives Incorporated, an international company that advises on development projects.
Adam Weinstein, a research fellow at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, Washington, said that Karachi needs to find a “humane” way to address land encroachments that hinder development.
Karachi was once well-connected by a circular railway but corruption and mismanagement in the transportation sector brought the city to a grinding halt in the 1990s, according to Weinstein. Many of the railway tracks have become illegal slums, where people have settled from smaller towns.
A development project valued at Rs162 billion was announced in March last year by Prime Minister Imran Khan, but the city officials reported that no funds were released. The federal government in response said that it has spent Rs24.65 billion, and an allocation of Rs17.9 billion has been made for the current fiscal year.
The report said that the delays in development projects are “hardly an anomaly”, citing the 15-year-old discussion to revive the circular railway, the Green Line bus project announced six years ago, and the Blue Line bus project, which was shelved in 2019 by the Sindh government due to financial issues.
“If cities provide quality infrastructure, it by default increases productivity,” said Uzair Younus, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He added that Karachi’s administrative setup, unable to provide decent mass transit, will always be viewed with skepticism.