Modern urban transportation and interconnectivity are crucial for the economic uplift of any country in the world. Large cities across the world are mainstay for the economic activities in general. Commuting for work and transporting cargo play a key role in a country’s ability to thrive. There are certain classic instances of road network across the world. Australia’s Great Ocean Road, Spain’s Ruta de la Plata, France’s Route Napoléon, Russia’s Ring Road, Canada’s The Icefield Parkway, Japan’s Kanjo Loop, Brazil’s Oceanic Avenue, China’s Nanjing Road and the USA’s I-95 are famous roads in the global arena.
The inhabitants of Karachi are acquainted with the trials and tribulations of transportation system in the city. A city of over 20 million, to be precise, has a pretty decrepit road network. The causes of poor transportation system in Karachi are owing to no alternate routes, no emergency routes, no addition of new roads, the faulty designs of roads, the decades-old drainage system which floods the roads with sewage water, overpopulation and the encroachment by the shopkeepers and residents, to name a few. The commuters undergo traumatic stress on day to day basis. Not to speak of the construction of new roads for the convenience of the populace of the metropolis, even there is no sign of maintenance of roads frequently traveled in various localities of the city. As per a conservative estimate over three-fourths of the entire road-network of the metropolis is in dire need of attention. There are certain areas where there are a number of schools, colleges, coaching centres where one could see the commuters scuffling with each other every now and again. In retrospect, there is no turnaround in the transportation structure of Karachi today vis-à-visa decade ago. Rather, the number of broken and dilapidated roads are soaring in every nook and corner of the metropolis.
Prompt action has become crucial for the development of the business hub of Pakistan. Population shift has further deteriorated the already scarce resources. In addition to the ravaged roads, encroachment in major areas of the city has compounded the agitation of the commuters. There is rampant encroachment by the shopkeepers, residents etc. in almost every residential area of Karachi whereby adding to the misery of the commuters regularly. Encroachment is done very prudently by the shopkeepers and residents for which the relevant authorities seem to have turned a blind eye. One could see a deluge of street cart vendors on a plenty of roads across the city which has become a lucrative business for many in the wake of the burgeoning population whereby causing misery to the motorists.
There is no denying the fact that roads are already in decrepit condition, however, on top of that poor drainage system results in water flooding the roads. The decades-old drainage system clogs up and water accumulates on roads, causing menace to the denizens. The faulty designs of roads in almost every part of the city have led to hazardous U-turns which cause accidents very frequently. Since the city is deprived of service roads in numerous areas, commuters resort to go in the wrong direction which causes gridlock creating havoc. It is certain that in case of an accident a person would die prior to reaching a hospital since there are no alternate route or emergency routes. In addition, there is no concept of ambulance lane even on the major thoroughfares of Karachi. No one is cognizant of the fact that this over-populated city is in desperate need of alternate routes and particularly the designated routes for ambulances.
Generally, mini-buses, taxis, auto rickshaws, Qingqi transport, app-based services and ride-hailing services such as Bykea, Uber and Careem play a vital role in commuting a large number of travelers in the city. Because of ride-hailing services, the erstwhile yellow taxis seem to have become history, however, the taxi still play a crucial role in the transportation system of the metropolis using the dilapidated roads.
The incumbent government needs to formalize prudent transport policies. There is desperate need for investment in road network of the major cities in particular. Decline in the transport cost leads to economic well-being. Transport investments and improved technology have proven to boost many economies across the globe. This instance needs to be replicated by the power corridors of Pakistan.