On a recent trip to Sydney, I saw their new Sydney Light Rail project under testing and it reminded me of the tram system we commuted in Prague and Zagreb.
Karachi is a city of almost 30 Million residents (forget what the “census” says!). The City is held “hostage” to the traditional bus mafia- unsafe, rash & decrepit. While the Sind Government is trying to get it’s overdue Bus Metro project started (Lahore is way ahead of us with their Metro!), in a metropolis of this size, our mass transit has to be revolutionized and modernized … and the only way is Metro or a solar powered, Light Rail/Tram system.
The advantages of a light rail network is that it runs above ground – we don’t really know the plans of our buildings’ foundations so better to stick to above-ground solutions.
Like most cities of the world, distances in Karachi are great. Unlike many cities in the world, Karachi still has wider roads – but as the traffic and parking is not controlled, we remain “bumper to bumper” when driving. However, if safe parking plazas are built & operated and car, bus & motorcycles’ driving in lanes are regulated, I don’t see why we cannot actually convert one lane (each-way) on each of our main arteries and larger streets to a tram network. Using the Sun to power the Rail during the day, we will also protect environmental damage and conserve electricity.
We need to MOVE PEOPLE safely and quickly- this will never happen with our current bus service.
One of the
best investments this Country ever made in the ‘90’s was development of the new
Motorways in the Punjab. Let’s analyze what
it has produced-
Poverty- Whether it’s the “CPEC” development of roads network, rail
links or other transport modes or it’s internally developed, tying city to city
and province to province will uplift rural areas and give them access to
commerce, trade, emergencies, etc.;
Commerce – you’ve shrunk the time, eased the availability and given
smooth access to farmers and trade from their villages to large towns and
Mobility- Punjab has become MOBILE.
With a maximum travel time of six hours, people can work in one city while
their home is in another- very much like cities in USA;
Transport- network and infrastructure has increased and become better;
Employment- you’ve created new means of income & employment- whether
new buses ply the motorways, staffing these buses or opportunities for shops,
outlets, offices, etc. (more on this below*)
Tourism- you give immediate access to develop internal tourism opportunities
(more on this below*). This summer, my
brother, sis-in-law and our families drove from Karachi to Nathiagali, in one
of the best overland adventures they have had!
& self-employment- Local towns, villages and populace on the road network
should be helped & encouraged to put up small, clean, 2-3 star lodgings
& cottages– the economy of that area is being developed indigenously. Pakistani hospitality is one of the best the
world has ever seen (but few can experience it in the face of negative
publicity ☹). You don’t need the “Avaris” and the “PCs”
& “Serenas” – let it be the “Khan Motel” instead. One, 10 room lodging will give DIRECT income
& employment to a family of 5-7 people minimum; they in turn will employ
others to help run the show; producers will sell food stuff, cleaning, linen
and other items to these lodgings; the benefits go on down-stream and are never
ending; and on & on. The ancillary
developments that take place are another story all together – shops , retails,
malls, organized tours, etc.
There may be no international empirical evidence suggesting an increase in road networks necessarily helps an economy but I see actual, on-the-ground benefits we have gained in Pakistan. If travel time between Karachi and Lahore can be reduced from almost 24 hours to 12 hours, what’s not to like? If a series of motorways links the length and breadth of Pakistan, what’s wrong with that?
(As I post this, the new M7 – Multan to Sukkar- just opened!)