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What’s the rush? Replicating the MBS


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IT will take some time before the Lahore metrobus service can be established as an economically feasible project that has provided a lasting solution. For that reason the PML-N government’s plans to go for similar projects in Karachi and Rawalpindi-Islamabad look hasty. That all of Pakistan’s fast-expanding cities need comfortable transport systems goes without saying. But each city’s requirements differ, and the Lahore model cannot necessarily be considered applicable to all. Consider Karachi: countless plans drawn up, approved and even guaranteed funding were abandoned because of bureaucratic sloth or political indifference. A Japanese-aided plan is still there, but it is anybody’s guess whether the scheme to revive the Karachi Circular Railway will see the light of day. Islamabad, which otherwise has many features worthy of a modern city, has no government-run public transport system. This is a matter of shame for all governments and shows the car-bound bureaucratic and political elites’ indifference to the people’s needs. If, therefore, Islamabad’s ‘common’ citizens are to have the benefit of modern transport, all they need are comfortable and fast buses, with subsidised fares. Rawalpindi, too, requires buses rather than a Lahore-type MBS for travel within the city and for links to Islamabad.

There are other cities also — Faisalabad, Multan, Peshawar and Hyderabad — where fast and convenient modes of public transport are conspicuous by their absence. What is to be welcomed, however, is the Planning Commission’s reported decision to include the “notional” cost of Rs30bn for each MBS project in the annual development plan. This undoubtedly shows awareness on the part of the government that it recognises transport as a problem. But there is no room for a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Karachi would be much better served if the KCR revival plan became a reality. Instead of insisting on an MBS, the federal government would do well to ensure that no bureaucratic hurdles are allowed to delay the KCR project, whose first phase is due for completion in 2017.

Comments (5) Closed

Asif Ali Naz buriro Jun 08, 2013 07:47am
I agree, but sir there is an issue political interests. Pmln knows, if he don't fulfil his promise, other political rivals will leave no stone unturned to make embarass forunfulfilled vow with the help of our immature media anchors...... In the end, the pmln should once thinkbefore making any decision
Iftikhar Husain Jun 08, 2013 11:35am
It is too early to see the result of Lahore experiment if it fails that will mean that it was not planned properly. For other cities it is better to wait and see first experiment.
Syed Ahmed Jun 08, 2013 01:53pm
This is an instrument to divert the public attention from some of PML(N)'s promises - the pertinent one being to bring back $60 million from Swiss and other stolen money lying in foreign banks abroad. Requirement of the day is the revival of countries economy, power, law and order.
The Power of Reason Jun 09, 2013 06:56am
You make a very valid argument. The irony, beyond the obvious political intention of the scheme, is that instead of institutional improvement, for instance, by setting up or facilittating the setting up of a fully powerful urban transport agency in Karachi, or for that matter in major urban centres, recourse is being to populist measures of no lasting benefit.
akhter husain Jun 09, 2013 06:11am
Long term planing is an art and science which,our political leadership is unaware of.The town planners of early days had the vision and growing town requirements.All one needs is to look at the planed circular railway and implement it.The MBS will not take care of the fast growing transportation of the Karachi public.The leadership must not create false hope..