According to a news report, the Qingqi rickshaws, which were first introduced in Lahore under the President Rozgar Scheme in 2001, are now being called illegal! How can this be possible? Why would a government approve an illegal transport? If this was illegal action should have been taken against people who cleared the scheme at the time of inception. Also, how come it took twelve years to discover their illegality? And do all the private and public service vehicles plying on Karachi roads meet legal requirements? And who would feed the families of thousands of Qingqi drivers who are suddenly thrown out of work?

How are such actions taken and promoted in our country where the poor find it hard to make ends meet? All those thousands who invested in buying these Qingqi rickshaws are now without any mode of earning. Will these people turn to the streets and become criminals? Who is to be blamed? What about hundreds of thousands of passengers, men women and children, who are suddenly left without a convenient and economical means of transport?

For years, the government has been talking about surface and underground trains for the city, but nothing has been finalized yet despite the fact that funding was made available by Japanese government by way of long term loans on negligible interest rates. If the government cannot create additional facilities for the masses, it should at least have the decency not to withdraw whatever little is made available to them through the efforts of fellow citizens.

These actions are usually taken to facilitate some powerful politician who has invested in some new scheme for transport. I remember when the old rickshaws were banned in Lahore causing thousands out of a livelihood. This poor country has been made poorer by our leaders, nearly all of whom are busy buying properties abroad and maintaining fat bank accounts there. While looking after their own interests and those of their family members, friends and associates, they should also spare a thought for others. Just how far the leaders are prepared to go in testing the nerves and patience of the masses?


Karachi, October 10.