If you live in Pakistan, specifically Lahore, then before deciding to go out the thought of terrible traffic must have crossed your mind at one point or the other. The start-stop traffic, piercing noise of horns, and raged faces are a common sight and sound on our roads, which have been there for as long as I can remember. But the situation has recently worsened and that is because of the rise in uncontrolled imports of Japanese Cars in Pakistan.
Like any other country, after the recovery of the 2008 Wall’s Street Crash, Pakistan also saw a rise in the imports of vehicles. Most of the imported vehicles were Japanese 660cc cars. The main reason behind their enormous number of imports is that the majority of the population of Pakistan falls in the moderate-income group bracket. So considering the reasonable price and a handful of features the cars come with, consumers are very much inclined to settle on the Made in Japan vehicles.
However, a convenient mode of travel at first i.e the Japanese cars have become an affliction and there are many reasons why.
The first and the foremost reason is mentioned in the very beginning, which is the congestion of the traffic. With a rapid increase in the number of cars present on the roads, a ‘disastrous’ traffic congestion has started to appear on roads. Even during the non-rush hours, it seems like there is a sea of cars present out there on the roads. And during the rush-hours, consider yourself lucky if you pass through the traffic without raising your blood pressure as there are cars are coming in from every direction. I do not blame the consumers for this disorganization, rather I am all in to put the debris on the government. Because according to economic theory, the role of consumers in a market is that they always try to gain maximum utility from the consumption of a product. Similarly, in this case, consumers acted rationally and did what needed to be done by buying a Made in Japan car because it maximized their utility. However, the government did not play its role i.e did not regulate nor stop the plethora of Japanese cars from coming in.
Moreover, the rise in the imports of these cars has struck the local industry like a sharp spear as it has increased unemployment and reduced standard of living drastically. The preferences shifted from locally manufactured vehicles to the Japanese ones very rapidly, thus diminishing the production of locally manufactured vehicles. Also, the imported cars come with imported parts, so the availability of the spare parts is only made possible by importing those spare parts, as the local ones do not fit in. Because of this, the spare parts industry has also suffered a massive blow in terms of revenue. And due to the lack of technology and expertise, it has become really difficult for the local manufacturers to shift to another medium just to satisfy the wants of the owners of these imported vehicles.
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Besides targetting the automobile industry of Pakistan the imported cars have served a detrimental punch to the exchange rate of Pakistan. With a large amount of local currency floating out the exchange rate has had a severe dip. Dollar’s rate which used to be around 105PKR now stands at 155PKR. That is not it, Japanese Yen which never crossed the barrier .0 has now crossed the mark of 1.43PKR. I know it is not entirely the imports of these cars which have played a part in thrashing away the ER but yes it has played a significant role.
It is high time for the government to consider that infrastructure plays an important role in the development of business, therefore, the government should intervene and stop the blood-bath which has been going for years now. Like other big cities, it is a necessity for cities like Lahore, Karachi etc to get more than Metro Buses. Without the proper provision of Public transport, it will get difficult for people to carry out their businesses because in this recessionary period, not every individual can afford a car and not everyone can waste their time in a traffic gridlock. Sometimes, it feels like consumers had no choice while vouching for imported cars because the locally manufactured ones do not have the up to date features and the public transport is residing in ruins.