Rise of the Chinchi (Qingqi) Rickshaw in Pakistan
Rickshaw is not only the most common mode of transportation in Pakistan but in fact it can be seen all over South Asia, ruling the street of all major cities, towns and villages. No matter where you live, you must have traveled on rickshaw at least one time in your life. But in Pakistan, new CNG base rickshaws are virtually taking over all urban and rural streets. They are also popularly referred as “Chinchi” (Qingqi). The rise of Chinchi rickshaw is because of government lack of interest in building proper transportation system in Pakistan. The port city of Karachi does not have any mass transit infrastructure and same goes for other cities like Lahore and Islamabad etc. The transport system is controlled by transport mafia who enjoys unopposed monopoly. The big and small buses owners do not bother to maintain their vehicle. You can guess how the requirement of fitness certificate can be satisfied by bribing the traffic police. There is no mechanism to regulate or supervise the operations of these transporters. The increase in petrol and diesel prices is followed by increased in bus fares. Interestingly, during 2010 and 2011 majority of the transport is switched to CNG from diesel.
If you ever travelled in any of the public buses in Pakistan, then you know how these bus conductors treat their passengers. They assume them to be nothing but a mere luggage that can be forced into buses to make room for more passengers. Awful situation like this have created a market for Chinchi (Qingqi) rickshaws. They are currently running on different routes that are usually not covered by buses. They are charging Rs. 10 to Rs. 15 depending upon the distance. People prefer Chinchi rickshaw over big and mini buses as they offer a cheap fare and convenience. The Chinchi rickshaw is definitely not the solution of transport problems faced by big and small cities, towns or villages of Pakistan. Big cities like Karachi and Lahore need a properly planned mass transit program. The current inefficient system not only is inconvenient, expensive and unregulated but also put lives of the commuters at risk.
Photo courtesy by Azlan Hashim