KCR dream

Published June 27, 2022

RAILWAYS Minister Saad Rafique has basically clarified what many a commuter in Karachi has known for long: true and sustainable revival of the KCR is not happening anytime soon. The minister made the remarks during a visit to the metropolis last week, though in a later meeting Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah told Mr Rafique that Karachi’s traffic problems could only be resolved with the establishment of the commuter rail service. Once a viable and affordable option for intra-city travel, the KCR began its decline in the 1980s, and by 1999, the service had folded. Lack of maintenance and encroachments on its land were among the factors that contributed to the KCR’s demise. Over the years, many efforts have been made to revive the service, with the Supreme Court pursuing the matter with particular interest. The apex court’s insistence has borne some fruit, for a limited portion of the KCR was revived last year, running between Orangi and City Station. However, this can by no means be termed a revival of the original KCR circuit, which covered a far greater part of the city. Now, as the railways minister indicated, the state has pinned its hopes on Chinese help to truly revitalise the project and provide a proper urban rail system to Karachi.

The Sindh chief minister was very much on the mark when he told the railways minister that Karachi’s transport woes can only be addressed by a modern urban rail system integrated with running and planned dedicated bus lines. The city has expanded exponentially, and people have to traverse long distances, and spend a lot of money, to get to their workplaces or educational institutions etc. The fact that Karachi’s public transport system has practically collapsed has been highlighted numerous times in these columns. Therefore, to present a viable public transport alternative, and prevent millions more cars and motorbikes from clogging the city’s streets, the KCR’s revival is imperative. The state needs to ensure planning and funding are in place to realise this dream.

Published in Dawn, June 27th, 2022

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