KARACHI: In a megacity like Karachi, 55% of female commuters who use public transport face sexual harassment, said University of Karachi (KU) public administration department Professor Syeda Hoorul Ain on Wednesday.
She was presenting figures and findings of her research ‘An empirical review of Karachi’s transportation predicament: from personal attitudes to public opinion’ at the second day of the international conference ‘Managing Megacities 2016’ at HEJ Auditorium in KU. The research was conducted under ‘Karachi Megacity’ project, by the public administration department in collaboration and George Mason University, United States. The conference was organised by KU’s public administration department, Shar School of Public Policy and Government, George Mason University.
Referring to the issue of sexual harassment that women face, Ain said there used to be a similar situation in Columbian capital Bogota. According to her, the mayor of Bogota, Enrique Penalosa, addressed the situation by deploying undercover police force to arrest such harassers.
Ain believes that in our society, women are unable to report such cases due to the poor justice system. She said women cannot go and file an FIR against such incidents at police stations. “In reality it [sexual harassment in public vehicles] has become an ordeal our women face daily,” she said.
Speaking about the road accidents, KU geography department’s Dr Salman Zubair said that according to a survey, 35,671 residents of Karachi were injured in accidents in 2012, of which there were 1,179 fatalities, 7,292 severe injuries and 27,195 minor injuries. Based on the reported data the port city has lost $488.7 million due to Road Traffic Accidents (RTA) in the year 2012 and nearly 65% of the RTA victims belong to a young age-group, he said.
Zubair further said that recent road geometrical change has made the traffic flow uninterrupted up to some extent. He believes that proper placement and designing of U-turns can reduce the rate of increasing road accidents.
Meanwhile, Professor Mir Shabbar Ali from NED University of Engineering and Technology said that traffic congestion is a result of not just too many cars on the road but also the financial policies that encourage vehicle ownership. The inability of civic agencies to channel road tax into road improvement is one such cause, along with improper enforcement of heavy-vehicle restriction in urban roads during busy hours.
Deputy mayor speaks
While speaking to the audience, Karachi deputy mayor Arshad Vohra said that the basic issues of all megacities are almost the same. “Karachi is the seventh biggest megacity of the world,” he said.
According to Vohra, Karachi produces 12,000 tonnes of garbage every day, whereas their municipalities have the capacity to lift trash at 4,000 tonnes per day. For this purpose the provincial government will have to release special funds to lift all the garbage, Vohra said.