Poor traffic management continues to plague Islamabad

Illegal parking, VIP movements said to be main causes of blockades, jams


APP January 21, 2019
Illegal parking, VIP movements said to be main causes of blockades, jams. PHOTO: AGHA MEHROZ/FILE

ISLAMABAD: The capital city is braving several challenges mainly the absence of innovative methods to tackle chronic traffic congestion, poor road infrastructure to ensure uninterrupted mobility of plying vehicles.

A glimpse of regulated road traffic is enough to ascertain a nation's self-discipline. Traffic that flows smoothly is an indicator of a country's progress.

World over, developed countries have embraced scientific road management to address growing traffic challenges. However, with Islamabad being the capital, if we consider it a mirror to the entire country's traffic management system, the reflection is not that good.

There are three key stakeholders- Islamabad Traffic Police (ITP), Capital Development Authority (CDA) and the public- which play a crucial role in ensuring hassle and risk free traffic movement in Islamabad.

The ITP, an efficient force established in 2005 to ensure regulated movement of vehicles on the city's thoroughfares, requires a revamp as it is currently operating with 628 officials, fewer instruments to cope with an emergency situation and minimal challenging amount," said a top official of ITP.

Highlighting the ITP's issues, the official said, his staff works 14 hours to deal with huge traffic influx on main arteries of the capital. During the last decade, traffic jams during peak hours, markets' blockades have occurred hundreds of times due to illegal parking and VIP movements.

He underlined the need for enhancing the amount required to pay off a challan as deterrence against violators proved effective to bring behavioural changes in them. “We can issue only Rs500 against major violation," he regretted. He also urged upon the CDA to install traffic related road furniture as enforcement necessitates road signs, warning boards, zebra crossing and updated lane marking.

The CDA was supposed to facilitate the ITP in matters ranging from upgrading of the capital's road infrastructure, including construction of roads, underpasses, overhead bridges, signal free facilities to installation of road furniture.

The "Future Planned Projects" placed on the list of development schemes for the city in January 2017 pertaining to road infrastructure could not be materialised due to bureaucratic snags and technical issues. This includes overpasses on Nazim-ud-Din Road and Fazal-e-Haq Road over Faisal Avenue (700m); underpass at the Shakarparian Intersection on Islamabad Highway; interchange at intersection of 9th Avenue and Jinnah Avenue; interchange at I.J.P Road and 9th Avenue; interchange at Koral Chowk on Islamabad Express way and others.

According to a CDA representative, the shortage of funds and bureaucratic snags were the main impediment behind the stalled project. Last but not least, public who always appears in haste while commuting on roads, mostly seems to be violating traffic rules and regulations with impunity.

A commuter Sajjad Abbasi suggested that a violator must be fined heavily. He floated the suggestion to follow Punjab government's footsteps which takes the lead in taking such effective measures. He urged the ITP to tighten the noose around lane violators by introducing a strict penalty against people breaking traffic rules. Traffic rules and regulations should be made mandatory like education curriculum.

National Highways and Motorways Police Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Ashfaq Ahmad urged the CDA to build overhead bridges and underpasses in the federal capital as these play a key role in preventing deadly accidents. He said though there were some financial constraints facing the city's development authority but a will was also missing. Proposing the practical measures to place in order the capital's messy traffic congestions he said it could be managed by the authorities concerned by adopting scientifically approved guidelines.

He said the authorities concerned should totally prohibit buses terminals' functioning in the city's areas and only allow them to operate near the long intra-cities belts (Grand Trunk Road, Motorways and Highways) by diverting Heavy Traffic Vehicles from the city's central area.

He emphasised the need to promote public-friendly local transports within the city. Sharing an example being practiced in central London to compel daily commuters to use public mobility mode he suggested imposing heavy taxes on entry of personal vehicles at their arrival to the federal capital to tap their flow within the city.

The depicted picture of the federal capital's unruly traffic system is in dire need of a complete overhaul and signals warning to bring revolutionary changes otherwise the capital's dwellers continue to suffer from daily traffic clogs whether commuting to college, offices, school, and other destinations.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 21st, 2019.

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