Dr Shaheer at Liaquat National Hospital had just popped a date into his mouth to break his fast, when four patients were rushed into his emergency unit on Sunday. All of them were victims of road accidents.
“This has become a normal routine for us during Ramazan,” he quipped. “There’s hardly anytime for iftari these days,” he said as he started to put a cast on one injured man’s leg.
One of the patients there included The Express Tribune’s staff photographer Athar Nisar Khan, who was injured in a hit-and-run accident. He was heading home on his motorcycle, with his helmet on, when someone hit him on New M A Jinnah road near Islamia College just after Iftar and left him in the middle of the road to nurse his wounds. The other driver came from the wrong side. When the photographer tried to get up afterwards, his right leg swung crazily from the knee down, as if it had become unhinged. He nearly fainted, thinking that he had lost his limb. Somehow, he managed to reach the hospital in a rickshaw.
A day later, DIG Traffic Khurram Gulzar was scratching his head as he looked on at the jam-packed road madness unfolding at Shahrae Faisal on Monday afternoon. He insisted that everything was well under control.
“Road accidents definitely increase during Ramazan,” he remarked. “Everyone is in a mad rush to reach home and no one cares about anyone while driving.”
The peak rush hour on the city’s thoroughfares begins just after 1pm when most officegoers begin to head home. It becomes crazier after 3pm. And at around 5:30pm it is almost hazardous to be on the road.
Jinnah hospital emergency ward’s chief Dr Seemin Jamali says she receives most of the patients just before Iftari. Almost all of them are young males with limb injuries. “But really there are all sorts of injuries and our orthopedic ward remains most active during Ramazan,” she said.
According to Jamali, post-Iftari a separate stream of patients floods into her hospital, almost all of who are suffering from gastroenteritis. “Usually people who overdose on their Iftari and have unhygienic food from the marketplaces come to us.”
For his part, DIG Gulzar says he’s given up hope that the motorcycle riders will ever learn. “They try to race between trucks even when the bike wallah has his entire family, including two little ones on the tank and two others at the back squeezed between the wife, so what can one say to them.”
The traffic wardens, however, face the toughest time in DHA during Iftar time. “These Defence wallah people who come from privileged backgrounds are the worst violators of traffic rules as they race against time to reach their Iftar parties in Defence and Clifton,” Gulzar alleges, adding that his personnel face the wrath of these violators when they dare to stop them.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 9th, 2011.