Twenty-eight toll plazas on the Northern Loop of the Ring Road will become active from March 8 and stop motorbikes and rickshaws from getting onto the highway for high speed traffic, said a Ring Road official.
Traffic police and Ring Road officials said they were expecting resistance from drivers of motorbikes and rickshaws to the decision, as it would mean they have to travel longer distances.
They also said it would increase security concerns among motorcyclists and rickshaws in certain areas. Sources in the police said that motorbikes and rickshaws had been allowed on the Ring Road from Karol Ghati to Pump Disposal Adda for the last year or so after there had been a spike in robberies targeting these vehicles on the service lane along the Ring Road.
Colonel (retd) Asim, who is in charge of security at the Ring Road, said that motorcycles, bicycles, scooters, carts, rickshaws and Qing Qis would not be allowed on to the Ring Road from March 8 when the 26 toll plazas on the Northern Loop, one for each exit, are activated.
Gujjarpura SHO Shahid Ali said that Muhafiz Squad officials had been permanently deployed to the Ring Road service lane to prevent robberies. He said he was confident that there would be no spike in robberies once motorbikes and rickshaws were diverted to the service lanes.
The toll will be Rs10 for cars, Rs20 for mini-buses and vans, Rs50 for AC buses, Rs60 for small trucks (popularly referred to as ‘loaders’) and three-axel trolleys, and Rs100 for larger vehicles, said Col (r) Asim.
There will be no toll on cars, however, for the road from Gulshan Ravi to Saggian Bridge while other vehicles will have to pay less. AC buses will pay Rs20 and three-axel trolleys Rs40, he said.
He said that an electronic identification system for toll payment would be introduced later but not for a while. He said 50 guards would protect property on the Ring Road while traffic would be controlled by wardens.
Col (r) Asim said that the Ring Road authorities had not been stopping slow-moving two-wheel and three-wheel vehicles from using the Ring Road because they feared it would create trouble for the traffic wardens tasked with stopping them. He said he expected an angry reaction from the public when the toll plazas are activated on Thursday and they start turning away motorbikes and rickshaws.
“People will resist the decision and probably fight with the workers at the toll booths, but it is about improving the traffic situation,” Col (r) Asim said.
Traffic police officials also said they expected motorcycle and rickshaw drivers would be angry when denied use of the Ring Road. He said there was also a lack of road crossings for bikers. He said that interchanges from where motorbikes could cross the road were spaced a minimum of two kilometres apart, while the interchanges between Niazi Chowk and Mehmood Booti were around 8 km apart.
He said that a year ago, motorcyclists travelling from Karol Ghati to Pump Disposal Adda faced an increased incidence of mobile phone robberies as they were allowed to use the Ring Road.
City Traffic SP Mustafa Hameed Malik said that it was important to remove slow-moving vehicles from the Ring Road for safety reasons as well as improved traffic flow. “It is in the larger public interest,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 6th, 2012.