Rawalpindi reels under virtual lockdown

Residents, commuters face hardships as main roads remain shut

Qaiser Shirazi November 26, 2022
Eateries and restaurants have occupied a major portion of College Road in Rawalpindi. PHOTO: Imran Asghar/Express


Rawalpindi residents and commuters faced hardships on Friday as the district administration, under security arrangements, put the city under virtual siege by closing roads around Faizabad, where the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) will hold a public rally on Saturday (today).

Public transport stayed off the roads and major arteries were closed by the administration, making it difficult for people to continue with their routine work.

The Faizabad crossing was closed for all kinds of vehicular traffic by installing containers and citizens have been advised to use alternative routes to commute between Islamabad and Rawalpindi. Due to the closure of the Faizabad flyover, which connects Islamabad and Rawalpindi, citizens faced severe problems traveling between the twin cities.

Blocked roads created long queues and vehicles were stuck in traffic jams. The closure of the main road of Rawalpindi led to severe traffic jams on Rawalpindi Double Road, IJP Road and Murree Road.

According to the traffic police, a diversion has been set up at Faizabad for those traveling from Islamabad to Rawalpindi via Murree Road, while the old airport road and stadium road can be used to enter Islamabad from Rawalpindi.

Police claimed that PTI workers blocked the road by placing containers to prepare for the rally, due to which the road from Faizabad to Islamabad was blocked.

According to City Traffic Police (CTP) spokesman, the CTP is making all-out efforts to regulate traffic on city roads and traffic going from Rawalpindi to Faizabad is being diverted from Double Road to 9th Avenue.

The closure of roads at multiple locations including the entry and exit points of the twin cities due to the PTI’s long march is not only creating a nuisance for commuters but also patients, students and vendors. As a result of the closure of roads, the people of the twin cities remained stuck in traffic jams for hours.

Asifa Ikram, a mother of two children said: "We suffered from severe mental trauma due to the traffic blockage on Murree Road at night while taking my son to the hospital for an emergency".

She said that her son was having breathing issues and she had to spend three to four hours in a traffic jam with her family. There were two ambulances stuck on roads with serious patients but the PTI workers were not ready to give way to the ambulances, she said.

Shahid Aslam said: "The long march has created a negative impact on the academic performance of the students as once again educational institutions have announced holidays which would waste the time of the students and affect their grades."

Arif Mujeeb, a government servant, said that "I have to travel between the twin cities daily but the suspension of public transport and closure of roads has added to his travel woes.

"Due to the closure of main roads, alternative routes are witnessing long queues of vehicles and people are stuck in rush for hours. Cab services and private taxis have also raised their fares and commuters are facing serious issues due to the mess created by the long march,” he said.

Meanwhile, Regional Police Officer (RPO) Rawalpindi, Nasir Mehmood Satti has directed the police officers to ensure foolproof security arrangements for the security of the PTI public gathering. The RPO said that all available resources should be utilized to provide the best possible security to the public gathering.

According to a police spokesman, Rawalpindi district police have finalised all security arrangements for the PTI’s public gathering.

He said that police personnel including commandos from the Elite Force and sharpshooters would be deployed to provide foolproof security cover to rallies and the main public gathering. additional inputs from APP

Published in The Express Tribune, November 26th, 2022.


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