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KCR and transporters

December 30, 2012

THIS is apropos of the letter ‘Why is KCR being considered again? (Dec 23) by S.M.H. Rizvi, who is the former head of the Rapid Transit Cell and Rail Mass Transit. He has expressed his inability to understand why the initially ill-designed Karachi Circular Railway, which, according to him, had miserably failed after incurring losses of millions of rupees to the Pakistan Railways long ago, is again being considered for further wasteful investment.

He also referred to the closing down of state - managed organisations like the KTC and SRTC for being wasteful while also mentioning that the once efficient Pakistan Railways is now depending on heavy state subsidies.

Now taking the case of railway which, according to the writer’s admission, was once efficent, and is now dependent on heavy state subsidies, a reasonable conclusion would be that the downturn is more due to the traditionally corrupt and inefficient state management than the inherent non - viability of the organisation.

If we look closely, we will find that even in cases other than the railways, it would be the ‘state management’ which is to be blamed.

I think it is quite well - known that in case of downfall of the KCR, apart from the inefficient management, it was the private road transport operators’ influence that should be blamed, which, through heavy ‘inducements’, made the KCR management to fix timetables in a way that would deter passengers.

Also, shuttle bus services should have been provided at important stations so that even the people living/working at some distance from the stations could use the KCR. There were reports that very high - ranking officials had assured Karachi bus owners that the KCR will not be revived.

It was the same story with the inter - city passenger and goods transort service of the Pakistan Railways where, apart from rampant corruption, the road transport operators’ influence resulted in the downfall of the railway.

During Gen Musharraf’s rule the KCR revival plans were being finalised and the city district government of Karachi had even built some overhead bridges in preparation for that. However, some wise guys came up with the idea of magnetic levitation train, which Musharraf accepted with child-like excitement, abandoning the traditional KCR project.

However, the magnetic levitation project never got off the ground and the people of Karachi were left with nothing.

I am sure an efficient management team can run the KCR at a profit and provide the people of Karachi with a decent, reasonably-priced transport.

S.R.H. HASHMI Karachi