KARACHI: Despite the passage of more than a year, most malfunctioning escalators and lifts at the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Green Line stations in the metropolis are still non-functional or out-of-order, a recent survey shows.
Every day thousands of commuters in Karachi use the BRT Green Line buses, which is a federal government initiative aimed at improving public transportation in the city.
However, the system has been facing a series of operational setbacks since its launch in December 2021.
Since it became operational, several escalators and lifts on its key stations were seen malfunctioning or they broke down, making commuters’ experience painful in already stressful life of the metropolis.
At the Board Office station, people complained that one lift and both the escalators on the two sides of the main road always remained non-functional.
There is no escalator at underground Numaish station, which causes a great deal of inconvenience to commuters
An elderly woman was seen walking up the stairs while carrying the school bag of her daughter at her back and a shopping bag with groceries in her hand. “I come here daily and walk up these stairs because the escalators or the lift are never functioning and often it’s very hard for me to climb these stairs. I do not understand why they don’t repair them,” she told Dawn.
A staff member said that it had been around a year since the lifts and escalators had not been working.
A major problem people face at the Numaish station is the absence of an escalator to reach up to the main platform after getting off the bus.
The station is the most important one as the journey culminates here because it is the last station until the remaining track of the Green Line is built on M.A. Jinnah Road.
A passenger complained that there wasn’t any escalator for going upstairs at the Numaish station after getting off the bus. “People are compelled to use the metal staircase to go up and leave the station.”
Similar issues have been seen at other stations as well. At Abdullah Chowk in Surjani Town — the first station of Green Line — the station staff has intentionally turned off one escalator. When asked the reason, they said children from the neighbourhood were using it as a ‘ride’.
It’s fair to say that complete and efficiently working lifts and escalators at 4-K Chowrangi, Karimi Chowrangi, UP Mor, Nagan Chowrangi and Five Star Chowrangi stations are still unavailable.
Similarly, such issues also keep occurring at other stations as well.
Abdul Aziz, a senior official of the Sindh Infrastructure Development Company Ltd (SIDCL), the entity responsible for Green Line infrastructure development and its working, said that escalators and lifts malfunctioned frequently. They were repaired on time, but sometimes, it took more time than usual to repair them, he added.
When asked as to why these facilities were non-functional at the Board Office station for such a long time, he said that the primary reason was that they did not have spare parts for the escalators, which were very hard to find locally.
With regard to import of such parts, he said that Letters of Credit (LCs) were not being opened by the State Bank of Pakistan due to which importing of spare parts had become difficult.
As for no escalator to come up to the main platform at the Numaish station, he said that the installation of an escalator had been delayed due to the LC issue.
About keeping escalators off due to children, he claimed that it was only done when the ridership was low and during rush hours, all escalators were kept functioning.
Published in Dawn, September 24rd, 2023