Spare the rod, and spoil the child. This proverb best defines the situation of one of the youngest and most preferred public transport of Pakistan in general and Karachi in particular, “Qingqi”, or Chinchi as it is so generally mis-spelled.
It might sound strange why all of sudden I started to curse this public transport. This is because this problem child is on its way to become monster.
Be patient I am telling first let me recover from the tiring journey I had today. “Ah! I miss you my beloved Bike, Get Well Soon”. What! I sound stupid??? I dare you to have a Qingqi journey and talk sense.
Alright! Now let’s look at the positive aspects of this public transport.
Unfortunately, being a male dominant society, we have less space not only in heart but public transport also. Female passengers were overlooked, not picked up and ignored by bus drivers and this space in Karachi was used by male passenger as one can see them hanging on bus like honey bees on its hive. Qingqi comes as a blessing for female passengers. They stop on their call and nearly all times seats are guaranteed for whole journey.
On an average it’s quicker to transport passengers than other public buses and cheaper than a taxi. It makes Qingqi an ideal choice to reach destination quickly and cheaply on daily basis.
Qingqi gives a job to jobless people; in general, even an uneducated person who just knows driving becomes Captain of his Qingqi, master of his fate. Pakistan observed all of sudden a boost in sale of Qingqi vehicles because the cost of a Qingqi is way less than any other public transport. Many micro finance banks, NGOs and other dealer of Qingqi were ready to lease them.
There are some other benefits of Qingqi for example they run not only on main road but on linking roads; even in streets, bazaars etc. CNG load shedding does not bother their schedules as most Qingqis run on Petrol.
Unfortunately, this blessing is turning into curse.
As the routes and stops are not regularized they have gone crazy. They are stopping wherever they want, ending the route by their own. Even a person told me that a Qingqi driver stops at a particular stop and change its route number plate, because there was more passenger of that present on that stop.
Sadly, making illegal profits is a bitter truth of Pakistani culture. Many of the Qingqi drivers have displayed unapproved rate list with CNG OFF Days and CNG ON Days. The increase in rates is up to 50% of the regular fare. Poor people are still paying the fare complimentary with abuses and curses to both Qingqi driver and government.
Since they have not regularized or allotted terminals because of some legal and licensing issues. Qingqi are increasing unmanaged clutter on the traffic flow. Overloading and rash driving are causing accidents almost on regular basis. Above all, they have sort of created Mafia and are almost nonnegotiable on any of their wrong deeds including but not limited to tax returns, route plans.
Ministry of Transport and other traffic regulatory authorities have to play their role to nip this evil in bud.
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