Trams make their way into rehabilitation plan for Karachi downtown | Pakistan

KARACHI: Commuting in Karachi is quite an arduous task, driving past narrow lanes brimming with hawkers, vendors, and different forms of vehicles, ranging from donkey cart, rickshaws, truck-art buses to countless motorcycles. In such a situation, it is hard to imagine that once trams used to rule the streets of downtown Karachi.

Trams and horse-drawn carriages were two most common ways of commuting in Karachi under the British rule. However, trams hold significance for some citizens who have lived through the 1960s; the mode of the transportation was eventually closed down on April 30, 1975.

A proposed plan for the rehabilitation of Saddar seeks reintroduction of trams for the ease of commuters. 

Sharing the plan, architect Hafeez Habibi, remarked that other projects including a pedestrian trail and cycle tracks will also be implemented. He was speaking at a session on “Proposed Rehabilitation of Saddar” during the Fifth Annual Karachi Conference Saturday morning. 

“I remember trams used to pass through the heart of downtown Karachi,” shared one of the members of the audience. “Seeing trams operating in the city again would sure be heartening and reminiscent of the times gone by.”

The tram system in Karachi was closed due to an underground railway project in the 70s and 80s, shared architect Arif Hasan, who was chairing the session. 

However, the railway project never materialised. 

Revamping Saddar

“Saddar, which was once a destination, a hub of public activities has today become a thoroughfare of traffic movement and the soul of the city’s wonderful vibrant downtown is lost,” remarked speaker Habibi.

“We need to bring back its human-friendly streets, its vibrancy, its life, its safety and its living pleasure. We want our lost memory back.”

Under the new plan focus would be placed on pedestrianisation, rerouting of public transportation and restriction of the movement of private vehicles, said Habibi, adding that new bus terminals will be formed along with designated spaces for street hawkers near terminals.

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