Better urban initiatives in Capital vital to cater to bulging population

ISLAMABAD – The experts at a webinar in connection with World Environment Day said the capital was going to embrace high-rise residential apartments that would bring thousands of vehicles at a time on the roads which needed to be addressed through better urban mobility initiatives.

The experts demanded a dedicated Islamabad Transport Authority (ITA) and robust urban mobility to address challenges due to rising fuel prices and provide cost effective alternative means.

The webinar titled Rising Fuel Prices and Alternative Means of Urban Mobility organised by the Institute of Urbanism was participated by Director General Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (Pak-EPA) Farzana Altaf Shah, Head of Islamic Institute of Economics Professor Dr Abdul Rashid and founding Executive Director of the Institute of Urbanism Mome Saleem. DG EPA Farzana Altaf Shah said the federal capital needed a dedicated Islamabad Transport Authority and price management body to regulate transport fares and ensure effective urban mobility that would help control emissions and reduce vehicular congestion with better service delivery to the public.

She said the capital’s population and vehicles’ number was rapidly spiking up with incompatible connectivity infrastructure that could not cater with such bulging size of automobiles. Shah said the country’s capital lacked a proper mass transit system that could provide holistic commute to all the sectors of the metropolis.

During Covid-19 pandemic, she said the air quality improved dramatically that provided two indicators that less vehicles on roads and fuel combustion in mobility resources could ensure less air pollution.

Experts demand dedicated Islamabad Transport Authority and robust
urban mobility to address challenges
due to rising fuel prices

The Pak-EPA DG added that the capital was going to embrace high-rise residential apartments that would bring thousands of vehicles at a time on the roads which needed to be addressed through better urban mobility initiatives.

She underlined the need to develop a mechanism for determining the automobile’s engine life as there was no system to determine the life of an engine in the country and therefore, many second and low quality engines were plying on the roads causing both environmental and health hazards.

Founding Executive Director of Institute of Urbanism Mome Saleem welcomed the suggestions of the EPA DG and assured that these ideas would be raised before Parliamentarians caucus of the institute for further debate.

She informed that the institute was working on a smart application to introduce car pooling on the sequel of such apps, not meant for monetary purposes, developed in western particularly European countries to encourage car pooling.

Saleem said the institute was holding policy and advocacy dialogues with the parliamentarians to promote healthy debate and informed policy making.

Head of Islamic Department of Economics Professor Dr Abdul Rashid said urban mobility and behavioural change were vital to overcome increasing pressure on environment and economic impact of rising fuel prices.

He said urban mobility does not mean only mass transit rather a strategic system of well planned connectivity in mega urban centres linking key economic hubs and areas mass utility in an interconnected system reducing vehicular number and enhancing smooth access to key spots of utility.

He appreciated the Institute of Urbanism survey that indicated 65% people of 400 individuals interviewed in a survey who intended to sell their vehicles if a decent and efficient mass transit system was provided to them. “It is a general habit of our nation that we provide good suggestions during survey but we practically follow those ideas very less in our personal lives which needs to be improved,” he added.

He said in terms of behavioural change the society should shun its practice of everyday shopping and adopt weekly shopping habit that would reduce vehicular emissions and congestion on roads.

Dr. Rashid said better urban mobility ensures improved economic opportunities and business activities due to smooth and comfortable approach to key business centres, super markets and areas of public connectivity and networking.

 

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