Pakistan’s first Metro train brings both progress and problems

By Kat Lonsdorf

LAHORE, PAKISTAN — Construction has already begun on the Orange Line, Pakistan’s first Metro train, but the progress is leaving parts of the city in the dust.

Building the elevated train line has meant demolishing thousands of private properties and encroaching on several historic landmarks in Lahore. It’s also throwing a wrench in a chaotic—yet familiar—public transportation system that relies on donkey carts to buses and everything in between.

People who rely on Qingqi—both for income and transportation—will face serious challenges if the rickshaws are removed from the streets of Lahore. “If (the government) shuts this down, I think in Lahore half a million people could become unemployed,” says Arif Khokhar, who has been making Qingqi for a living for 17 years. (Kat Lonsdorf/MEDILL)

Lahore, a city of around 11 million, is overflowing with traffic. As the government tries to combat congestion with new transportation, like the Orange Line, older forms are naturally pushed out. The Orange Line threatens to specifically displace one of Lahore’s most rampant forms of transport: the Qingqi.

Qingqi (pronounced CHING-chee) are made by removing the back wheel of a motorbike and replacing it with a wheeled metal carriage. The result is a kind of oversized rickshaw that oftentimes carries up to ten or twelve people.

Check out the gallery below for photos of Qingqi and how they’re made:

This video was produced in partnership with City42 TV in Lahore, and the Center for Excellence in Journalism in Karachi.

Photo at top: A Qingqi driver zooms past construction for the Orange Line, Pakistan’s first Metro train, which may push Qingqi out of Lahore.  (Kat Lonsdorf/MEDILL)