KARACHI: If you happened to drive through Karachi’s main artery, Sharae Faisal, on Saturday, you may have come across more than the usual force of traffic policemen, clad in their white uniforms, a red hat and red bands reading Sharae Faisal wrapped around their arms, controlling traffic.
This is because the traffic department has termed the 18-kilometre-long Sharae Faisal, from Hotel Metropole to the Jinnah International Airport, a ‘model road’, where there will be ‘zero tolerance’ against all kinds of traffic violations, according to DIG traffic Amir Ahmed Shaikh.
The decision came after the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) leader Faisal Vawda blocked the main Sharae Faisal during a protest rally on Wednesday, causing severe traffic jams in the city.
However, other main arteries of the city, such as MA Jinnah Road, Sharae Pakistan and Rashid Minhas Road, on which VIP movement is far less frequent, may continue to bear the brunt of lack of traffic policemen and ill planning.
In order to make Sharae Faisal a ‘model road’, the traffic police have deployed 132 cops on the main artery. This artery, according to Shaikh, has been divided into eight zones, where three DSPs in their new cars, which have Sharae Faisal’s sticker pasted on them, are deployed. Usually, traffic police from Bahadurabad or other adjoining areas of Sharae Faisal have to control the traffic on Sharae Faisal, but now there is a special force for this artery, informed Shaikh.
Moreover, 12 section officers and 32 patrolling officers will be monitoring the artery on their motorbikes. Five patrolling cars will be monitoring the artery round the clock, along with eight recovery vans that will be available to immediately remove broken-down vehicles. A total of seventy traffic cops will be deployed on signals and main checking points.
An estimated 0.25 million vehicles move through Sharae Faisal daily and these measures have been taken to cater to such a huge volume of traffic, said Shaikh, adding that due to violation of one-way traffic rules and parking laws, poor urban planning, an influx of marriage halls and high-rise buildings, such a move had become inevitable.
Speaking on whether the new cops have been hired afresh, Shaikh revealed that traffic cops from other parts of the city have been deployed in the force instead. However, he failed to respond on whose fate the remaining arteries, from which these cops were taken, have been left.
We also planned to make a model road on MA Jinnah Road, from Numaish Chowrangi to the Jama Cloth Market but the decision has not been finalised yet, claimed Shaikh, adding that even Sharae Pakistan will be made into a ‘model road’.
Meanwhile, Karachi’s deputy mayor Arshad Vohra said the residents of Malir, Korangi and Gulshan make their way through Sharae Faisal. However, along with Sharae Faisal, MA Jinnah and other main arteries should also be made ‘model roads’, he said. “We have a plan along with the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation city wardens for the arteries of the city, for which we will take the traffic police onboard too,” he said.
Not the first time
Apart from this new scheme, the Karachi traffic police have introduced many failed schemes in the past, one of which was the new grey-coloured uniforms for the traffic police in District South in February 2015 with an intention to spread it in the entire city. However, the initiative was only confined to District South, where it recently died off.
In July 2015, Shaikh announced to set up the traffic police’s own police station in District South and even though a summary was moved in this regard, nothing practical was ever done. The introduction of female traffic wardens was yet another feature restricted to this ‘model district’ which did not last long.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 11th, 2016.