The traffic police’s diversion plans fell flat on Monday when Lower Mall and many of its adjoining roads became choked, resulting in hours-long traffic jams.
Among the roads, on which traffic came to a stand still and then moved at a snail’s pace, were Queeens Road, Mozang Road, Lawrence Road, Temple Road, Fane Road, Lady MacLegon Road, Naba Road, Fareed Kot Road, Syed Mauj Darya Road, Aik Moria Pull, Do Moria Pull and Azadi Chowk.
The bad news, according to the chief traffic officer, is that the next 15 days will be just as bad if not worse. The official said that they will deploy eight additional wardens on the roads to address the situation.
The Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) track is being laid on Ferozepur Road, Lytton Road, Lower Mall, Data Darbar Road and Ravi Road. Traffic from the main arteries is being diverted to the smaller roads.
City Traffic Police had earlier announced that 420 wardens would be deputed on the roads where construction for the BRTS project is going on. However, on Monday, very few wardens could be seen on duty, which added to the commuters’ problems. Even on Jail Road, there was only one warden.
Many drivers who tried to find a way out only made the traffic jam worse. Some others tried to direct the traffic.
CTO Dr Usman Anwar told The Express Tribune that the traffic jams were cleared by 5pm. He said the traffic wardens had “limited space” to redirect the traffic and should not be blamed for the jams.
Anwar said that Monday’s traffic had been really bad for two reasons: one that lawyers had parked their cars on the Lower Mall, blocking much of the available road and two that not enough wardens were deployed at the alternative routes between Ferozepur Road and Queens Road, and Lytton Road and Safainwala Chowk.
The CTO told The Tribune that the lawyers had met with the DCO and it had been decided that they could continue to use Baba Ground as a car parking. Also, he said, it had been decided that the roads leading to the Chief Minister’s Secretariat, the DCO’s Office and the Commissioner’s Office, except for the Outfall Road, will be made one-way.
“The warden on duty at Safianwala Chowk had to leave because of a family emergency,” Anwar told The Tribune, “and we could not find a replacement.” He added that they will consult the city government on how to ensure that traffic jams like the one on Monday do not happen again. The officer warned commuters of inconvenience for the next 15 days.
TEPA has told the traffic police that pillars for the bridges will be erected in that time and will ease the situation. Anwar added, “Things will be back to normal before colleges open after the summer break.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 31st, 2012.