PESHAWAR: Hundreds of commuters suffered on Thursday due to a traffic gridlock triggered by separate protests by nurses and power consumers across the city. While the nurses gathered outside the K-P Assembly, those protesting against power outages blocked Ring Road. Traffic was diverted to other routes.
The protest of nurses from public sector hospitals outside the provincial assembly added to the woes of commuters as Khyber Road was blocked for more than four hours. The main gate of the assembly building is often the venue of choice for protests as demonstrators from various government departments believe their voice will be heard by public representatives.
Inam Khan, a resident who was stuck in the traffic jam, told The Express Tribune people have decided to make the main gate of the assembly building a hotspot for protests.
He added many people suffered in the scorching heat as a result. “The government should ban protests on bustling roads so that commuters do not suffer.”
Separately, a large number of residents in Town-IV took to the streets on the city’s outskirts to protest against prolonged and unscheduled outages in the scorching summer heat.
As Ring Road was blocked by protesters, vehicles were diverted to Khyber Road which had already been blocked by the nurses. Needless to say, this further complicated an already chaotic situation.
The protesters belonged to Phando, Gharibabad and other villages of Town-IV. They shouted slogans against the provincial government and Peshawar Electricity Supply Company (Pesco). They also held placards inscribed with messages against Wapda.
The demonstrators blocked the bustling Ring Road passing through Jamil Chowk at peak office hours between 8am and 12pm with the help of barricades. Hundreds of commuters were stranded on the road and many ended up late for work.
They said areas were suffering through five hours of outages a day despite paying heavy bills.
Huzaifa, a resident of Phando, told The Express Tribune, “If only some households were not paying bills, why did all families of his village have to suffer for the crimes of a few?”
Another resident said load-shedding had paralysed routine life and they were facing water shortages as well.
Faridullah, a district councillor from Town-IV, told The Express Tribune certain areas were facing outages due to the negligence of the department concerned. He said residents suffered unscheduled outages, but the government has yet to address their grievances.
Subsequently, a jirga was held at the guest house of district member Naveed Khan. Residents pledged to pay bills and Pesco officials responded by saying there would be no unscheduled outages in those areas.
After successful negotiations with Pesco and Wapda officials, protesters dispersed and roads opened up for all sorts of traffic. Farid said Pesco officials promised to address the problems and take action against those using illegal kunda connections.
Pesco Spokesperson Shaukat Afzal told The Express Tribune load-shedding was directly proportional to the recovery of bills. He urged consumers of Town-IV to install meters and pay their electricity bills.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 3rd, 2016.
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