Life in the garrison city came to a standstill on Monday as the Difa-e-Pakistan Council’s (DPC) long march against reopening of Nato supply routes entered the city on its last leg. Traffic congestion was witnessed on many roads, especially in the older parts of the city around Benazir Bhutto road or formerly Murree road, through which a long caravan of the marchers passed en route its destination, the federal capital.
To provide space for the DPC marchers, the main artery of the city, Benazir Bhutto Road, was closed for vehicular traffic by 3:30pm.
As a result, unprecedented traffic mess was witnessed on other main roads, including City Saddar Road, Saidpur Road, Rawal Road and Liaqat Road.
Ambulances were seen stuck near District Headquarters Hospital (DHQ) and long queues of vehicles could be seen on different roads.
“The residents of the inner parts of the city faced great problems after the traffic police put barricades on different roads leading to the Benazir Bhutto Road,” said Faisal Shami who owns a car showroom at Liaqat Road connecting Raja Bazaar with BB Road. “It was wrong on the part of police to close the main road from Marrir Chowk to Faizabad completely,” he added.
Similarly, the residents of Dhoke Chiraghdin, Dhoke Khabba and Waris Khan faced severe traffic congestion, said Chaudhry Sajid, an area resident.
As soon as the vehicular caravan of DPC reached the Kachheri Chowk on GT Road, traffic on Airport Road, the Mall and Adiala Road were stuck and the mess could not be cleared till the marchers passed through the busy intersection.
Though traffic police had announced the closure of BB Road on Sunday evening, the absence of any alternative plan led to a traffic mess on different roads in the city, said a traffic warden.
The situation could have been better if the main road was not completely closed from Marrir to Faizabad and it should only have been closed when the caravan was crossing, he added.
When contacted Chief Traffic Police Officer (CTO) Ishtiaq Shah said enough emergency arrangements were made to cope with the traffic mess, citing the slowness of the march as another reason behind the situation.
The commuters along with the locals had been told about the closure of BB Road through electronic media beforehand. Moreover, the transporters were conveyed the plan on Monday, as well, he added.
Two shifts of wardens were deputed to look after the traffic deviations.
In response to a question, the CTO said that the commuters did not have to face a lot of problems. However, some places did witness traffic jams which were due to the narrowness of the roads not the mismanagement of traffic police, he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 10th, 2012.