Peshawar’s public transport system in mire

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: Photo By News Lens Pakistan / Matiullah Achakzai
Photo by Matiullah Achakzai. : Photo By News Lens Pakistan / Matiullah Achakzai

Peshawar: Imran Ali travels regularly on public transport in Peshawar. Just like anyone else, he cannot escape the effects of a complete chaos governing the public transport system in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).

“There are not enough buses on a given route and commuters are packed like sardines in buses or wagons. Women are forced to share their seats with men. Buses are run on the whims of the drivers. If they wish, they would accommodate 18 passengers in a 14-passenger coach. They would stop anywhere they like. Most of these coaches are without air-conditioners, so you can well imagine our ordeal during summers,” says Imran.

According to Noor Mohammad, a commuter who visits the Haji camp terminal daily, there is hardly any facility in the terminal worth the name. Drinking water, toilets or waste disposal facilities are conspicuous by their absence. The result is that the terminal stinks of urination and litter spreads over the platform.

According to the media reports, the Peshawar traffic Senior Superintendent Police said that approximately 8,000 vehicles used for public transport are very old. He said that legally the vehicles older than nine years could not ply on the category ‘A’ roads, older than 11 years even on category ‘B’ roads, while those older than 15 years could not be allowed to use category ‘C’ roads. Roads are categorized according to volumes of traffic, function and capacity.

Peshawar runs four general bus terminals each in Haji camp, Charsadda, Kohat and Karkhano. The Haji camp is the biggest terminal. Buses for Peshawar and central and northern areas of the province board from this terminal.

Khan Zaman Afridi, the President of Public Transport Association KP told News Lens Pakistan that the government had leased out these terminals to the contractors on a very high cost. While the government he said has forgotten to follow up on the management of the terminals by the contractors.

“The Government has leased out the Haji camp terminal at Rs 28 million, but look at its condition. There are parts of the terminal where you do not find electricity. There are no waiting rooms. Since the sewerage system is usually choked, therefore when it rains the commuters do not only have to wait for the busses in the dirty water, but also have to bear its stench,” says Afridi.

Noor Mohammad, President Muttahida Transport Association, told News Lens Pakistan that since 1999, the government has stopped giving attention to the Peshawar transport system, totally ignoring bus terminals. “When a terminal worth only 40 million is leased out at 280 million, the contractor is bound to fleece the transporters who then take a ride on the passengers.”

The management of the terminals falls under the preview of the city government.

When the News Lens Pakistan approached the Deputy Commissioner(DC) Peshawar Riaz Mehsud, being the lead officer looking after the affairs of the terminals, he eluded the query saying he had never received any complaint from the commuters or other stakeholders therefore he assumed that things had been moving fine.

Administrator Municipal Corporation Peshawar, Syed Zafar Ali Shah, told News Lens Pakistan that these four general bus stands had been declared dysfunctional. He said that improving the condition of these terminals was very important since almost 4,500 public buses arrive at these terminals daily, which encompasses the entire public transportation system of Peshawar.

The Pre-Feasibility study done on Mass Transit Facility delineated that the present traffic problem is one of the biggest issues faced by the people of Peshawar. With population rising at a very fast pace, traffic related issues are becoming insurmountable.

The population of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa increased 51.6 percent from 1998 to 2011, according to the house listing 2011 report.

The Deputy Director Transport, Suleiman Khan, told News Lens Pakistan about PTI’s decision to form The Peshawar Urban Mobility Authority to regulate, plan and coordinate the urban transport system in the city.

According to the press reports, the KP government led by the PTI has decided to build 25-kilometer Chamkani-Hayatabad Mass Transit Project at the cost of Rs 12 billion. The Asian Development Bank will finance the project.

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