Celebration in stadium, chaos on roads

Published: March 21, 2018
A policeman frisks a minor boy at the entrance of the stadium. PHOTO: NNI

A policeman frisks a minor boy at the entrance of the stadium. PHOTO: NNI

LAHORE: A traffic mess caused misery for commuters who remained stranded in long queues on major city arteries due to diversions created for the Pakistan Super League (PSL) match on Tuesday. According to locals, the diversions were unnecessary and ill-planned

A number of citizens blamed the city traffic police and law enforcement agencies for making their lives miserable. Talking to The Express Tribune, motorist Farooq Bhatti, said,  “Although security of international and national cricket players is of paramount importance, it seems the city traffic police is not prepared to handle the chaos. Wardens are giving out wrong information about diversions in the city.”

He pointed out that the city traffic police displayed streamers on all major roads, indicating the Mall Road was open for traffic, but in fact, it was closed for all kinds of traffic from Gymkhana Chowk to Alhamra Art Centre for security reasons.

Security personnel carry a walkthrough gate to install at Gaddafi Stadium ahead of PSL fixture. PHOTO: NNI

Another citizen, Riffat Abbas, highlighted that the city police had closed Mall Road on Monday evening following the arrival of international players in the city. City police had blocked both sides of major artery by parking their patrolling vehicles in the middle of the road. These were later replaced by barriers late at night.

Mrs Anees, a motorist, said the match was scheduled for the evening, but the city has been on lockdown since morning. “Schools have been closed early. Markets and commercial areas, especially in Gulberg, are also completely closed. The government has virtually enforced a curfew on resident of the city.”

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A trader at Lahore Centre, Raees Khan, said police had sealed all plazas on Gulberg Main Boulevard for security reasons. The businessmen had been directed not to open their shops and offices for two days due to the PSL cricket match. “The government claims the game will promote a soft image of the country. That may be true if cricket is played in normal circumstances. For a few thousand cricket enthusiasts, the government has made the lives [of millions of] citizens miserable.”

Pakistan Army soldiers patrol the surroundings of the stadium. PHOTO: INP

Muhammad Javed said she had to rush back to home early by taking a short leave to avoid the long traffic queues. He highlighted that he had faced a similar traffic mess during the previous edition of the PSL. “I live near Hussain Chowk in Gulberg. My office is hardly a 10 minutes’ drive from home, but today I travelled the same distance in 45 minutes because of traffic diversions and the rush.”

According to security measures for PSL, roads and businesses within a radius of approximately three kilometres from Qaddafi Stadium and Pearl Continental Hotel on the Mall Road have been closed. Hundreds of thousands of people who travel on Gulberg Main Boulevard, Mall Road, Ferozepur Road and adjoining streets, on a daily basis, have to face great inconvenience. Traders estimate they have to incur losses of millions of rupees because of closures of their businesses.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 21st, 2018.

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