Meet Super Savari Express, the safest way to tour Karachi, the world’s most violent megacity

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Added in: Features

super-savari-express-karachi

Thanks to armed muggings, carjackings and extortion being a part of everyday life in Karachi, Pakistan, it has earned the ignominious honor of “the world’s most violent megacity.” With political and criminal forces fighting for ownership of the city every moment, there is an all-pervasive sense of fear even among Karachiites, dissuading them from leaving their own neighbourhoods, which are carved along wealth and ethnic lines, if they can help it.

Enter the Super Savari Express, a city bus tour akin to any you would find in a major city, but with one crucial difference: it is heavily armed.

The brainchild of Farzana Mukhtar, an HR consultant, Super Savari Express is the first of its kind in the city. A single ticket costs 2,000 Pakistani rupees (roughly $20), meaning that it is automatically geared towards a relatively wealthy clientele.

Karachi not being exactly St. Tropez, the tour bus is usually filled with wealthy Karachiites wanting to explore their own city. “We have about 30 to 40 people on each tour, and they all know the political situation and the safety situation – and yet they’re here because they’re hungry to see they can explore,” Atif bin Arif, managing director of Super Savari Express tells The Guardian. “These are the same people who fly to the Vatican to see the Sistine Chapel, even though we have beautiful churches here; or go to India to see temples, when we have Hindu temples here.”

super savari express

 

Built around one of the city’s gloriously kitsch public buses, painted with technicolor flowers and peacocks and festooned with pink and red feathers, tassles and tissue-paper flowers, six gun-toting guards take care of security in the Super Savari Express. In addition to showing off the former capital’s architectural heritage, the five-hour tour aims to highlight the city’s diversity by stopping off at a Hindu temple, a cathedral, a Parsi fire temple and mosques belonging to two minority Muslim groups, the Memons and the Dawoodi Bohra, all part of Bin Arif’s goal to demonstrate Karachi’s “mosaic of cultures, ethnicities and religions.”

It is a bit of a culture shock, travelling like this, in your own city. For many on the tour, people who are used to being driven around in air-conditioned cars, travelling by public bus is a first. Others recall how in safer times in their youth they would take the bus to school or university.

Source: The Tribune

Opening Image by Alice Ma

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