The rising levels of pollution and smog have made the government think of solutions.
In a bid to reduce air pollution caused by vehicles, the Punjab government has introduced an electric bus in the provincial capital. The pilot project is currently traveling on a single route from the City Railway Station to Valencia, and it will be expanded soon. The initiative has been taken by Sapphire Power Generation Limited (SPGL) in collaboration with Chinese automaker BYD under the supervision of the Punjab Transport Company (PTC).
The problem is multifold. Since the country does not have a proper public transport system in place, those who can afford to buy cars or bikes add to the already rising levels of air pollution. This results in the smog situation getting worse. Moreover, the government has not placed any rules or regulations which would reduce car usage in the country. The establishment of a sound public transport network is of utmost importance so that there is less pollution in the country. Moreover, the establishment should not be just of a public transport network but of a network containing electric buses that would be beneficial to society and the environment.
If this network is established, transport issues will also be reduced to a great extent. Many people who are willing and able to work are unable to get to their workplaces, as the transport costs have become extremely high, so the amount they earn is just enough to sustain their travelling costs. Moreover, women are usually left out of the labour force, even if they have the skills and education, because of mobility issues. If a public transport network is established, the economy can add a large number of workers to its labour force.
However, the establishment of a public transport system is not enough on its own. Pakistan’s economy has suffered massive blows due to rising fuel costs. The country does not produce any oil of its own and has to import it from around the world. When the world price of oil increases, the government has no other option but to increase the price locally, as it cannot afford high subsidies. It is the people who eventually bear the brunt of these rising prices. With an increase in petrol prices locally, the ticket prices of public buses also increase. However, if the bus network is completely turned into an electric one, the rising fuel prices will not affect the ticket prices.
This pilot project does give a glimmer of hope to locals, as if it is successful, it will allow for the establishment of an electric bus system. This will not only reduce pollution, but it will also introduce the idea of electric vehicles in the country as a public venture. Currently, there are only a few high-end private electric vehicles in the country that are accessible to the masses.
The government will also save much on the fuel costs of public transport, as currently all buses are powered by either petrol or diesel, and their prices keep rising in the international and local markets. Moreover, new business opportunities can be created for people as they can open up charging units, assemble plants, or even start manufacturing local electric cars and buses. Although these are far-fetched ideas, the first step is to introduce an idea, and that has been done. The rest will come along, as Pakistanis are quite ambitious. However, there must be a close watch on how the system is operated, as corruption is a deeply rooted phenomenon and people tend to think about instant gratification and their own benefit instead of the benefit of the whole nation.
In conclusion, the initiative must be welcomed as rising levels of pollution and failing economies around the world need alternatives to traditional fuel, and electric vehicles hit the spot. Pakistan must heavily invest in this new innovation and make its transport system better.