Showing posts from February, 2017

Why not Khokhas Everywhere?

Street-vending through kiosks (khokhas or dhabas) or mobile vendors (chabri wallahs, truck, bicycles or motor cycles) are all legitimate activities which allow the poor opportunities. All societies through history have had these activities.An unemployed person can with a small amount of money buy some fruit and serve it on a small platform or a cart.
Used to be a time we would see these vendors all over Pakistani cities selling all manner of things. There was guy selling the most awesome wire puzzles that I wish had kept. There used to be the guy in bicycle who used to be only supplier of used Marvel comics and science fiction books.
As teenagers, we used to walk or bike to local khokhas to learn how pick up all manner of goods as they were conveniently located and often cheaper than bigger stores. They were also willing to do things like give you one cigarette from a pack or one biscuit from a pack as opposed to buying a whole packet.
Then somewhere in the 80s when we seriously adopte…

Mobility for all

Pakistan is obsessed with cars and big lovely roads for these cars. For decades, the biggest item in the PSDP has been roads. We have built many highways. Most big cities in Pakistan are connected by a highway. Checking on Google maps I found that travel time between cities in Pakistan is almost the same as similar distances in the US. People with cars are very happy and love to talk about how fast they travel between cities.It is easier now to spend your time in metropolitan centers playing golf and occasionally visit your farm to collect your rents.
The presumed benefit of all this connectivity to GDP growth and welfare continues to elude the economy. Pakistan continues to grow between 3 and 5 percent far less than the 8+ percent required by our demographic trends. Yet the policymaker seems to think that roads will lead to economic growth. Within cities especially the favorites there is a continued effort to reduce the travel time for cars. Roads are continuously widened, flyovers…