The Karachi Traffic Project

Karachi is undergoing a massive re-building process. New roads are being developed, existing roads are being widened, flyovers are being erected, and signal-free corridors have become the ‘in-thing’ in the traffic lingo these days.

With the amount of cars produced and rolled out everyday, it seems that without a quick escape-plan, it would soon be impossible to commute long distances without a few riots on the way. But are we going in the right direction? Will all the hassle of ‘alternate routes’ and dug up roads pay off in the long run? I think not!

I’m not discarding the idea, but there are bigger problems at hand. All will be fruitful only if the tasks are handled in the order of priority.

The basic problem with the roads lie in the design and arrangement, and until that is fixed, creating wider roads will only add to the number of bottlenecks along the way.

Consider the existing road network. We have double parkings along the road almost everywhere, which eats up atleast one lane. The center divider (walkway) is inconsistent and does not follow the curves of the road and are thicker in some places and very thin at other; resulting in uneven fast lane, pushing the cars in adjacent lanes (best example, Karsaz road infront of Bahria Auditorium).

Another issue is the continuum of lane marks after a traffic light. Take for example, the Regent Plaza signal. If you keep going straight after the light, you’ll end up in a completely different lane. The lane marks vanish at the signal and once they continue, they’re totally out of sync, not guiding the cars to turn along the curve of the road.

A recent widening project taken up is the National Stadium road leading to Civic Center. A big failure as time will prove, the widened road will carry bottlenecks that will double the travel time spent on that road. The road widens just at the apex of the road, where traffic from Aga Khan and Karsaz flyover merge. The wider track (a 5 laner) will encounter bottlenecks at the foot bridge, as the traffic merges from the left intersection, then again as the majority of the traffic shifts from a 5 lane road to a 3 lane flyover.

What needs to be done is to ‘tame’ the drivers into driving sensibly, redo / correct the existing road infrastructure and then reevaluate the need for expansion in the road network.

We blame the drivers (read ‘ourselves’) for driving slow in fast lanes, not allowing cars to overtake, not driving in lanes etc. All this can be fixed in a jiffy with a strict traffic fine system. We have seen the examples time and again how, if the authorities desire, the entire traffic system can be turned around. Our biggest achievement in traffic management, the last Ramadan, speak for itself!

Last but not the least, we as commuters need a tough lesson on patience, tolerance and downright discipline!

16 Comments so far

  1. Neoka (unregistered) on January 14th, 2008 @ 2:06 pm

    How do you propose we go about ‘taming’ the drivers?
    It is true that there seems to be chaos on the streets everyday, it is a good thing that they are investing heavily into infrastructure, but you are right, it is not nearly enough, nor is it long term thinking enough. What this city needs is mass transport to get the average cars off the road and into a railway station – the biggest opponent to this however, is the cab and rickshaw lobby groups who fear it will cost them jobs!

    But how does would the city go about taming the drivers, at least enough to follow the proper directions?

  2. Farrukh Ahmed (unregistered) on January 14th, 2008 @ 2:17 pm

    We’ve seen it before. If there’s a strict traffic law enforcement by the traffic police, everybody will start abiding the rules. Its true that we need to keep a ‘stick to the butt’ approach but once it becomes a second nature, it will help all of us.

  3. Kashif (unregistered) on January 14th, 2008 @ 2:49 pm

    The bottlenecks are there and will always be there unless administration stops fire-fighting and logically plans a mass-transit plan. Almost all metropolitan cities have some sort of mass-transit system in place, whether it be train or bus. Instead of spending billions on roads that will get clogged in years time (considering number of vehicles coming on road) why don’t invest on the rail structure or put more buses on the roads?

    For now, it seems that this all construction drive is just to gobble up the development funds while keeping the citizens in trouble.

  4. AMMAR (unregistered) on January 14th, 2008 @ 2:51 pm

    folks, road marks and lines are really very very important. You only feel them badly, if you have driven the cars in countries where every one has to be in the lane and follow the marks. Despite lot of work, if we dont have marks, it will be be waste. Aesthetically speaking, it gives a very different look to the roads. Yeap the problem with the flyovers/underpassses is that, if you miss one, you have to take a very long route to get back to track. I have experienced a lot when i first starting using us. Now its okay. Its learning by doing. Definately we should have some training/orientation programs for the drivers. All of us can do it. It can be done every where. Eevery one has to contribute to it. Only together we can do it.

  5. Barrister Ali.K Chishti (unregistered) on January 14th, 2008 @ 3:35 pm

    ah, a few obervations:

    i) traffic jams is mostly caused by drivers usually opting for a ‘wrong way’

    ii) traffic is usually smooth where we spot either a police-wala or a mqm volunteer

    finally , we need a mass transit system – which discourages drivers to drive – and take trains, buses to there offices instead ….

  6. Jamal Shamsi (unregistered) on January 14th, 2008 @ 3:48 pm

    sometime back i posted about traffic managment “we” civilians have done in 2 sq KM area. including airport where the VVVVVVV IPs feel above the LAW, and act like ‘GAWD’

    I agree that it is about Strict Police, and law enforcement only. – When we supported and become the shield for the SO (section officer) and his team, the traffic become organized even the flagged cars of Military followed what WHITE uniform asked them to do.

    1st we need to ensure safety, security & respect of ground staff, – HOW WOULD YOU EXPECT A HUNGRY THIRSTY POLICE CONSTABLE TO PERFORM AND IMPLEMENT,.

    you can ask that at Karachi airport Civil aviation about Traffic management project.

    we are ready to take it up again, if some of US are willing to spare our TIME ‘for free’ and we can make it success.

  7. syed (unregistered) on January 14th, 2008 @ 5:21 pm

    i’m sorry..did someone say MORE buses on the road?? Are you freaking CRAZY!

  8. TEE BEE (unregistered) on January 14th, 2008 @ 6:52 pm
  9. HB (unregistered) on January 14th, 2008 @ 7:14 pm

    first of all….when u say that widening roads is bad …coz it will create more bottlenecks…u just show that u havent bin out of pakistan…

    the goverment has to deal with any bottlenecks that come up…
    the famous madinah road in jeddah had bottleneck as it woz widened… the building that was in the way was owned by some govt official… it stayed like that for over 5 years…but in the end..they had to bring the building down…it just shows that wider roads can be created and are always better..

    and i completely agree with neoka…about the mass transit system…the huge investments made in infrastructure are a commendable feat on their own…but wont last for long… the only solution is mass transit…
    even much more advanced countries have huge traffic jams…. dubai is in the process of making a huge mass transit system as we speak….

  10. pkhan (unregistered) on January 14th, 2008 @ 7:30 pm

    Driver education and signal managements should be the main route to Traffic management, I do not even think that in our Engineering Universities any Course is offered as Traffic Engineering? White Cloth Traffic Police Officers should not get all the blame but our general public who are racing each other and getting upset and frustrated on the road and driving reckessly.

  11. Kami (unregistered) on January 14th, 2008 @ 8:50 pm

    I think the first thing that’s important is political will do the ‘right’ thing.

    Recently I watched a documentary on Bogota, Columbia. There the ex-mayor transformed the city in THREE years. It not like Bogota is now Switzerland or anything but it has defnitely changed and changed for the better.

    I guess most people who have a voice are car-wallas and just want more more flyovers wide roads etc to make sure its easy for them to travel. However, majority of people dont have cars so priority should be given to them in planning.

    Above all, nothing will work unless we have ‘law & order’. Who would invest in a city where people burn public property /transport without thinking for a second. I am sure the rioters would even try to burn flyovers next time they are upset.

  12. Kami (unregistered) on January 14th, 2008 @ 8:54 pm

    I found the site,

    I think this must be must read/learn for the mayor and city planners

  13. king_faisal (unregistered) on January 14th, 2008 @ 9:35 pm

    this is a dunda qaum. unless policewallahs learn to act like dubai shurtas and penalise drivers for even minor offenses, no amount of traffic planning will bring any improvement. even einstein could not devise a traffic system for a qaum that does observe traffic signals, pay attention to street signs and overlooks parking regulations. unfortunately the biggest traffic offenders are transport mafia. our scumbag politicians will give ethnic colour to any attempts by the government to enforce parking regulation. and idiotic left-wing wackjobs will rush to the defence of transport mafia cause it is the right of a pakistani citizen to act like complete junglees. in the end we get what we deserve.

  14. mansoor (unregistered) on January 14th, 2008 @ 11:39 pm

    what ‘taming’? just who are you trying to tame? the karachi qaum is a lost cause! wipe them all out and begin afresh!

    everyone is out for each other’s blood, everyone is involved in the God complex! if someone does good, then they must have a sinister motive, if someone follows the rule, then they are to be scored and scoffed at. If someone faught on the road, then they are the fricking hero’s….

    karachi the city might just crawl along, not to sure about the people..

  15. Syed Johny (unregistered) on January 15th, 2008 @ 2:00 am

    @ Mansoor ! hire traffic police with good pays ! and see what happens then !

    If a traffic policeman can penalize a motorist for stopping on zebra crossing on shara-e-faisal ! then that can happen on other roads as well!

    People here do not even care for stopping before zebra crossing , as they have facility provided by the govt, they can see the status of there signal on the opposite side as well ! This facility is only for criminals !

    And one of the major culprit is the License office (i dont know the real name of organization cause i have never been to it !) Their test is simple! they only ask the applicants to park the car in a narrow space ! No check for knowledge of basic traffic rules!!

  16. Jamal Shamsi (unregistered) on January 15th, 2008 @ 3:46 pm

    – I agree – Higher pay, flexible timings, and protection from “elite class” who are MAJOR threat to common constable on road managing tarffic in absence of tarffic lighte.

    example is Motorway police !

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