KCR inevitable to tackle city’s transport issue

KARACHI: Though the government policymakers have tried their best to delay the urban transport lifeline project - Karachi Circular Railway, but there is no substitute to tackle the urban public transport issue of the mega city.The bureaucratic hold-ups only can delay this vital project for a couple of more years, but its revival is written on the wall.Sindh government and Centre have been paying lip service to this project. Last year it was amongst the top budgetary priorities of Sindh government, but this year it did not even mention this project in its recently passed budget for the financial year 2014-15. It is said that there are some very powerful lobbies that do not want to see Karachi becoming a modern urban metropolis. They want to keep this mega city, as haphazard and un-urbanised as possible. This is why when Lahore is working on metro train plan after successfully running rapid bus transit system of metro buses, provincial policymakers of Sindh are bent to maintain the notoriety of Karachi as Chingchi City.It is said that Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) was ready to provide soft loans for this project, but the ruling quarters were not ready to accept this offer. Even, the Pakistan Railways (PR) is fully capable of reviving this project within six months, provided there is a political will at city, provincial and Centre level.The main hurdle in revival of the KCR is that its lands are encroached and sold by very powerful gangs that also enjoy political patronage. Some big political players are against getting the encroached KCR lands vacated because their own people had sold them, and those now living on them are their voters and supporters. This is the same problem, which has so far kept the Lyari Expressway (LEW) project lingering on.Another factor is those hidden hands whose agenda is to suppress and delay the urbanisation, modernisation and industrialisation of Karachi, as the modern urban Karachi is in clash with their regional agenda. They fully know that modernising public transport system of the city would automatically result in its swift development and true realisation of its huge potential as a very important port city of this region.However, the fast growing population of the city and registration of thousands of new vehicles on daily basis in the city has left no other option but to revive the KCR or initiate another alternative rail-based urban transport system, as the city roads have no further capacity to sustain the burden of growing traffic load.It is a matter of just couple of years when Karachi streets would be simply non-motorable. This is why the experts see that the revival of KCR could only be delayed but not denied. It is in the interest of the city administration, political parties; provincial and federal government that work on the revival of KCR should be initiated immediately so that this lifeline urban transport project of Karachi can be completed as soon as possible.

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