Islamabad stopped as the premier appeared before the Supreme Court on Thursday. Long queues of vehicles could be seen at different road junctions as Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani prepared to leave the building.
About 2,000 Rangers and police officials were deployed to seal off the Red Zone which hosts important government bodies including the Supreme Court. All traffic, besides government vehicles, was banned from entering the area. The Islamabad Traffic Police’s (ITP) plan to keep the traffic flowing did not work.
“Every time there is a leader coming to the court we, the ordinary citizens, have to suffer,” said Junaid, an employee of a private firm who was late for office because of being stuck in traffic on the packed Kashmir Highway.
More than the usual number of cars and jeeps converged at a single point on the highway, redirected from different routes. An ITP official said many people tried to find shortcuts, which was the main reason behind traffic jams. He added that the traffic plan was “clearly announced” a night before but people did not follow them.
Commuters, on the other hand, complained that the alternate routes should have been indicated on sign boards on roads. “I did not see the police’s announcement, I did not know this road would be closed,” said Muhammad Jamshed who wanted to get to G-5 to his office and had to reroute through at least five roads before he made it to his office.
Though the PM appeared before the court for what were only minutes, the build up to it wasted the time of many.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 27th, 2012.
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