Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, May 23rd, 2019

Public Transportation in Kabul: A Challenge That Calls For Urgent Attention of the Government

Transportation is certainly an indispensable catalyst for activating and stimulating the speed of economic, social, political and strategic development in any society. Therefore, effective and efficient functioning of urban centers depends on the provision of basic infrastructures, including transportation infrastructure. This implies that transport infrastructure has to be rationally developed to ensure that movement of people and goods takes place accessibly, speedily, economically, safely, comfortably and in an environmentally-friendly manner in the country, especially in the major cities including Kabul as the capital city of Afghanistan. Whether transport infrastructure is rationally or strategically developed, the benefits could only be optimized if it promotes a sustainable transport system that guarantees safe, reliable, efficient and environmentally–friendly movement of people and goods. Such transportation infrastructures must overcome the different transportation challenges including congestion monster that bedevils urban centers globally i.e. congestions of people, houses and traffic. Among different impacts of lack of viable transportation system, we can point to their magnitudes that affect the national psyche. And based on research findings, there is a direct relation between violence and national psyche that its symptoms and consequences are clearly in the social behavior urban residents, and especially of Kabul with more than five million residents.
Lack of an accessible, affordable, safe and secure, clean and environmentally friendly transportation system is one of the biggest challenges of Kabul city. Kabul Municipality claims that it has developed Kabul comprehensive transportation plan including developing the standard infrastructures for busses, improving urban service management, and provision of standardized transportation service to the citizens and has taken concrete steps to implement them. KM also claims that it has identified Kabul transportation problems with the cooperation of government and international stakeholders and has developed specific plans to address them. According to KM authorities, lack of standard bus stations, lack of bus stops, electronic traffic facilities in the cross roads and streets, weak implementation of traffic law, violation of law by the warlords and other powerful people, weak cooperation between the relevant institutions of urban transportation, lack of standard roads in Kabul, too many T-walls and barriers and lack of the public information about urban order are the main transportation challenges that Kabul is faced with them.
Unrealistic Pledges have Disappointed People
Kabul Municipality and other relevant authorities have repeatedly made pledges that they would bring fundamental changes in the transportation infrastructures of Kabul city. However, they have not been able to deliver their promises. As a result, the people are disappointed with the promises in terms of improving the transportation infrastructures. At the same time, Ministry of Transportation has newly revealed a plan providing improved transportation facilities for women by mobilizing 20 buses driven by female bus drivers and also providing cheap transportation service to the students. As people are fed up with the unrealistic pledges, the Ministry of Transport shall have calculated its initiatives very well and shall have planned them based on the realistic resources available in order to realize them in practice. Kabul citizens hope that these initiatives will not have the same fate as the “first metro bus” that the Kabul Municipality promised to build it last year.
Lastly, the previous pledges in terms of developing and renewing Kabul transportation infrastructures, remind us that urban transport projects can only be successful if they are: Comprehensive: projects should address land use-transport integration and promote multi-modal integration. Continuous: plans, planning data, and tools have to be updated on a regular basis. Cooperative: all stakeholders need to be involved, which requires a solid communications plan and stakeholder analysis. Connected: projects should align with long-term transport and urban development plans. Championed: support and ownership at the highest political level are instrumental. Incremental: flexibility in the design is important as it allows project teams to scale up interventions incrementally, if and when needed.
Weak transportation infrastructure is one of the biggest challenges that Kabul is faced with it. It wastes the time and resources of the government and the people. Research findings show it is one of the main causes of national psyche in the country that Recovery can take decades. As a result, the Afghan government shall take the necessary and practical steps to address it accordingly. Because it is not only an indispensable catalyst for activating and stimulating the speed of economic, social, political and strategic development in any society but it also is one the fundamental rights of the Afghan citizens as well.