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Transportation in Pakistan

Published on 25th Mar, Edition 13, 2013


Transportation in Pakistan is extensive and varied but still in its developing stages and serving a population of over 180 million people. Construction of new airports, roads and railway lines has led to an employment boost in the country. Much of Pakistan’s road network and railway network were built before 1947.

Presently, roads carry over 96 percent of inland freight and 92 percent of passenger traffic and are undoubtedly the backbone of the economy. The current road network is about 260,000 kms catering to eleven million vehicles of all types. In recent years, new national highways have been built, with the addition of motorways which has accelerated trade and logistics within the country. Airports, buses system and seaports have been built in last 30 years with the addition of foreign and domestic funding.

Buses provide a significant role in commuting a large number of travellers from one point of the city to another. Recently, large CNG buses have been put onto the streets of various cities, primarily Karachi, Lahore and recently Islamabad has minivans, which were originally used ones and are beginning to cause large traffic problems.

Since 2000, however, the government has taken a comprehensive initiative to modernize the existing bus fleets and minimally impact the environment. This public-private enterprise would gradually introduce 8,000 CNG buses throughout the country and 800 buses in Karachi. Bus services like Daewoo Express and others have set up modern intercity service, which connects to most cities in Pakistan and runs 24 hours a day.

Unfortunately, the buses system is not well developed yet. Unchecked overloading in buses in Pakistan are not only causing inconvenience to the passengers but also threatening their lives, as people are forced to travel atop public transport vehicles. This practice results in fatal accidents yet the authorities responsible are doing very little to provide better transport facilities to their citizens.

The overloading of buses is almost the routine on most city roads due to poor transportation arrangements. Passengers, especially students, are seen standing on the buses and at times virtually hanging outside while their routes pose the additional problem of frequent stops. The citizens seem fed up with the overloading and frequent stops by the public transport buses. People especially female prefer to walk on foot rather than board a passenger bus on the route because of overloading. Various old-age citizens never get a seat and stand in the buses because the buses are already overloaded. It is reported that the bus drivers overload buses because of high fuel prices and were not able to bear their daily expenses. The traffic police often fine them for overloading but they can not refrain from overloading because without it they earn very little income, which is insufficient to their standard of living.

Pakistan Railways

During the last fiscal year, 16 kms of track was rehabilitated on the Pakistan Railways network besides doubling of more than 15 kms of track. Construction of D class railway station at new Multan City was carried out at a cost of Rs39.8 million, which has facilitated the local population to a large extent. Renovation of Khudian Khas, Usmanwala, Raiwind and Kanganpur railway stations was carried out at a cost of Rs24.0 million to improve facilities for the passengers. The signaling system of four railway stations damaged during the riots of 2007 was rehabilitated during the period. During February of the last fiscal year, 52 new design passenger coaches were imported from China at a cost of Rs4.1 billion. Remaining 150 passenger coaches will be manufactured at Pakistan Railways Carriage Factory, Islamabad by June 30, 2013. A new dry port was set up at Prem Nagar near Raiwind industrial area, Lahore through public private partnership at a cost of Rs494.0 million.



Presently, a restructuring plan of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has been finalized which addresses corporate governance, human resource rationalization, financial and operational restructuring, engineering improvement, procurement and logistics, marketing and fleet, airport services and dispatch reliability among others. Increased fuel cost has been a major downside risk to the financial strength of PIA; and, effective measures have been put in place to mitigate the effect. PIA earned increased revenue amounting to Rs116.02 billion in year 2011 as compared to 107 billion last year. PIA is successfully maintaining its IOSA certification and the current IOSA registry is valid up to 24th June, 2013.


The Karachi Port Trust (KPT) has 11.5 kms long approach channel, a depth of 12 meters and a turning basin of 600 meters, the port provides safe navigation for vessels up to 75,000 metric tons deadweight. The KPT consists of two wharves; each of the wharves has two dedicated container terminals and oil piers to handle liquid cargo. The KPT handled 27.8 million tons of cargo during the first nine months of the last fiscal year.


Pakistan National Shipping Corporation (PNSC) acquired its first bulk carrier namely Kaghan in 2006. Since then PNSC has been able to add further 6 modern bulk carriers of different type and sizes to cater for all kinds of large and small bulk trades. These include a 2009 handy size, one handy max, one supramax and another panamax of 2003 vintage. With an average age under 9 years PNSC is well placed to cater for any world wide trade. The consolidated revenues of the PNSC group during July-March 2011-12 were Rs6,640 million.


Pakistan’s transportation infrastructure has suffered from government neglect. Although there are some signs of improvement, foreign observers often contend that the poor transportation infrastructure inhibits economic growth potential. Furthermore, the government should seriously restrict the bus drivers to stop at too many places which resulted in overloading.


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