Development at a cost

After much pomp and fanfare at the launch of Green Line bus project late last year, with the media highlighting the event along with Orange Line’s inauguration, we now see development work being done on Red Line these days as part of second line of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in Karachi, with the aim of providing decent, affordable transport to the citizens.

Modern urban transport systems are used to facilitate the public in mega cities around the world. The planned route for Red Line bus would start from Model Colony, and run through Malir Cantonment, Gulistan-i-Jauhar, Gulshan-i-Iqbal and areas all along the University Road, connecting them with the Green Line BRT at Numaish Chowrangi, making it a 26.6km corridor.

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While this so-called ‘game-changer’ may be good news and something to ‘celebrate’ for some, and may be beneficial to citizens in the time to come, the project has brought more misery and has made life a hassle for those who have already been facing horrible traffic jams, especially in the morning and evening office hours across University Road.

A little over a lane on both sides of the route on roads from Safoora Chowk till Jail Chowrangi bridge, and at People’s Chowrangi near Islamia College, have been blocked by putting barricades all along the way. This has created logjams and the situation gets worse during peak hours. The misery of the commuters is to be seen to be believed. In fact, it has to be suffered to be believed.

Whenever such mega projects of urban transportation are launched around the world, alternative routes are planned in advance and professional approaches are adopted to make the construction work hassle-free for the commuters. This is done to ensure there is no traffic congestion and that the project’s execution remains smooth.

As the said project is expected to be completed in at least a couple of years, if everything goes as planned, the public, especially the daily commuters, will suffer traffic jams till the project gets completed. What is the administration’s plan in this regard?

In order to decrease pressure of vehicular traffic on University Road during the length of the project, the authorities concerned should take remedial measures, like re-routing of vehicular traffic through service roads on both sides of the main road. But this can be possible only if these service roads are made encroachment-free and parking-free zones.

Besides, it is vital to deploy traffic police to regulate the flow, particularly in the evening hours when there is heavy rush of commuters returning home from their workplaces only to face physical agony and mental anguish on the way back.

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