Being Pakistan’s largest city and its financial and manufacturing capital, Karachi is also the transport hub of the country.
The total length of road network in the city is more than 9,500 kms that accommodates about 1.81 million vehicles. This number is increasing by 16,562 per month. That is why the travel speed in most parts of the city is 30 to 40 km/h. Peak travel speeds in the core areas can be 15 km/h or even lower, while daily traffic volumes on major arteries are generally between 70,000 and 180,000 vehicles. Every working day, 24.2 million person-trips are taken in the city. Public transport (buses) is thought to provide between 50 and 60 percent of all trips and private transport account for the remainder.
There is exasperating disparity between the number of seats available in buses and the passengers, as indicated by the current passenger seat ratio of 1:34.
Unfortunately, there are up to 600 fatal road accidents in the city each year, most of them involving pedestrians and motorcyclists. However, accident severity index has risen to 45 percent.
Although, the maintenance of Karachi’s roads has been poor and problematic until the late 90s, the situation substantially improved after the introduction of the new local government, which built flyovers and underpasses, remodelled intersections and revamped roads. To accommodate the heavy traffic to and from the Karachi port, two logistic by-passes were completed, and for the same purpose, the Lyari Expressway is being constructed. These would well serve an integrated logistic system. There were no expressways in operation in early 2007, but the construction of the Lyari Expressway has almost completed. The road begins at the north of Karachi Port and west of the central city and runs northeast between Lyari and SITE areas, crossing other populated areas.
However, the Lyari Expressway is about 17 kms in length. Similarly, the Northern Bypass Road forming a wide semi-circle beyond the north of urban Karachi has completed. It connects the RCD Road at the north of Baldia with the NBP interchange on the Superhighway, north of Cantonment. The RCD Highway, if often constrained, provides an important link to the Karachi Port Trust.
Three national highways connect Karachi to the northeast (Super Highway to Hyderabad and Punjab), southeast (National Highway to Badin) and northwest (RCD Highway to Quetta). All these terminate at the Karachi Port Trust.
Karachi has two major sea-ports: Karachi Port trusts in the south and Bin Qasim in the east of the core area of Karachi. All major international trade is done through these ports. The Quaid-e-Azam International Airport is one of the largest airports of South Asia, with an average use of 10 million people per year. Karachi is connected with railways up to the northern areas and operates a comprehensive railway network that connects Punjab with Sindh. There are about 13 stations in Karachi accommodating the flow of up to 50,000 people daily.
Extract from Salman Qureshi’s research paper, “The fast growing megacity Karachi as a frontier of environmental challenges: Urbanisation and contemporary urbanism issues”, published in the Journal of Geography and Regional Planning Volume 3(11).