Three major road projects underway at the same time coupled with traditional problems like slow-moving traffic, encroachments and protests – have resulted in longer and more frequent traffic jams around the city in recent weeks.
Workers are currently expanding Canal Bank Road, building a flyover on Ferozepur Road and revamping Multan Road, meaning parts of these major roads are closed. Four hundred traffic wardens have been diverted from their routines to duty at diversions placed for these road works, resulting in a shortage of traffic wardens elsewhere.
The number of complaints about traffic jams received at the traffic helpline has risen in recent months and 200 calls a day were received on average during October, said a warden. He said that on bad days, such as when Ferozepur Road was shut down for an Islami Jamiat Talaba rally earlier this month, they received up to 750 calls a day.
He said that protests that blocked major roads like The Mall resulted in heavy traffic jams regardless of alternative route plans, and forecast big jams on October 28, when the Muslim League-Nawaz plans a rally at Nasser Bagh, and on October 30, when Tehreek-i-Insaf plans a rally at Minar-i-Pakistan.
The official said that complaints of traffic jams were most common at Mozang and Muslim Town on Ferozepur Road, on Allama Iqbal Town’s Main Boulevard at Dubai Chowk and its intersection with Wahdat Road, and at various spots on College Road in Township and on Multan Road. They were also common at Shahdra, Niazi Shaheed Chowk, Kacha Phattak area, Bhati Chowk and Nia Pull.
He said that donkey carts and other animal-drawn transport, though they are banned all over the city, were another common subject of complaint from commuters on Ferozepur Road, Walton Road, Ghazi Road, Lytton Road, Allama Iqbal Road at Garhi Shahu, GT Road at Do Moria Pull and Ravi Road at the bridge.
“They are the biggest problem in Misri Shah and Brandreth Road,” he said. “But if motorists in Gulberg see a single donkey cart, they are sure to call up and complain.”
Sadar Superintendent of Police (SP) Asif Zafar Cheema admitted that rush hour traffic was hard to manage. He said that some 400 traffic wardens had been diverted to diversions put in place because of the Canal Road expansion, flyover and Multan Road projects.
“There are only two lanes left on [a large stretch of] Ferozepur Road, which has a traffic flow of 400,000 vehicles per day, so obviously there will be problems,” he said. He added that the police would persuade businesses on the road not to park cars in the service lanes, which could then be turned over to slow-moving traffic.
City SP Mustafa Hameed Malik said that animal-drawn transport had become more popular as fuel prices had gone up, as transporting goods by donkey cart was cheaper. He said that hand carts were also a problem for traffic, but they could not be stopped as there was no legislation against it.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 26th, 2011.
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