Hundreds of people agitated by lengthy power outages and unscheduled loadshedding blocked the Grand Trunk (GT) Road at two different points in Mandra and Gujjar Khan for hours.
Long queues of traffic including buses and truck plying between Lahore and Islamabad were seen at the blocked points. The Motorway police said they restored traffic as soon as the blockade was cleared.
However, the GT Road remained suspended for traffic for over an hour. Police said more than 200 people gathered at the highway near Mandra, where they forcefully stopped vehicles while pelting stones at some cars and burning tyres to bring traffic to a standstill.
Eyewitnesses said commuters and emergency vehicles remained stranded in the traffic jam for hours. “Hundreds of vehicles had lined up by the time the protests ended,” said a Motorway police official.
A similar blockade was witnessed in Gujjar Khan, where more than 300 people staged a similar protest and blocked the highway.
However the local police responded well in time and convinced the protesters to disperse, the Motorway police official said.
In the areas near Lahore, protesters got to the Motorway through the Faizpur Interchange and blocked it for traffic.
“We have a small force and cannot stop 400 plus people when they charge onto the road,” said another Motorway police official. He suggested that regular police be deployed at all interchanges on the Motorway to avoid interruption in the flow of traffic.
He added that traffic was diverted to avoid the troubled points but it did cause inconvenience to many. He said no motorway police property was damaged by the protesters.
No such protests were report on the Motorway close to Islamabad and Rawalpindi, although there was a protest against loadshedding at Committee Chowk in Rawalpindi. On Saturday, too, dozens of protestors blocked the 9th Avenue for traffic for over an hour.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 18th, 2012.