The speed breakers along the length of Sunset Boulevard have become the subject of debate among residents, freight companies and the traffic police.
While the traffic police and Defence Housing Authority officials argue in favour of the flat-topped speed bumps, for the truckers who use this road, they are a nightmare.
A lot of accidents used to happen on this road when cars coming on to the boulevard bumped into freight trucks coming from Korangi Road. The spot for a U-turn was also the site of several accidents of cars venturing across from the residential areas on the left.
Traffic police Zone I SP Imdad Ali Shah and the south deputy commissioner went to meet DHA officials and advised them to build speed breakers at different intersections on the boulevard, especially at Phase VIII, where young people often raced their cars.
The speed bumps were built. They were six inches high and instead of being rounded they were shaped like a trapezium - flat on the top. Over the months, the slopes have eroded. Vehicles driving over them jerk up and down as they cross over, especially heavy vehicles like trucks.
The truck drivers who carry freight to and from factories in Korangi Industrial Estate commented that they weren’t as afraid of the police as they were of the two speed breakers. Freight companies who spoke to The Express Tribune claimed that the speed bumps have caused them losses of millions of rupees as the trucks often break down when they drive over them.
According to the chairman of All Karachi Goods Carriers Association, Noor Khan Niazi, the dilemma is that all the heavy-duty vehicles going to KPT, Site and Mauripur Road have to cross the speed breakers. “Every time a truck breaks down here it costs us over Rs100,000,” said Niazi. He claimed that it was affecting business. “We can’t even talk to the DHA and Clifton Cantonment Board (CBC) officials,” he said. “They pretend to have done us a favour by letting us use the boulevard. If we take the speed bump issue up with them, they will simply stop us from using the route.”
SP Imdad Ali disagreed with Niazi. He said that the speed breakers were not responsible for breaking the truck axles. “Axles break when the cars are old or the drivers go too fast over the speed breakers and that is their own fault.”
The truckers are not alone in their resentment. According to a member of the CBC’s traffic management committee, Dr Mir Paracha, many residents too are tired of the bumps. “DHA didn’t ask us before building them,” claimed Paracha. “They are a serious nuisance for anyone using the road.”
Zafar Naveed, the chief executive officer of PGE, a company which specialises in traffic management, said that there should have been traffic signals at the spots instead of speed bumps. “Speed breakers are not built in middle of roads,” he said. “The slopes of the bumps have eroded and this is what is causing the problem.”
A mechanic, Tufail, has benefited since the bumps were built. “I have not seen a speed breaker like this anywhere,” he said while fixing the front axle of a truck that was blocking the road as cars lined up after him. The axle had been cut off from the chassis like a sheet of paper. “There should have been gentle slopes to let the vehicles easily climb on to it and get off,” he said.
It seems that even DHA built the speed breakers as a last resort. CBC spokesman, Amir Abdur Rab, said that DHA built them after the number of accidents rose considerably. “Different strategies were used in the past to decrease the number of accidents,” he said. “The intersection was also removed. But drivers who wanted to cross the road complained.”
When The Express Tribune talked to the traffic police section officer posted at Sunset Boulevard, he gave the matter another perspective. According to Azizul Qadir, who has been posted there for the past one-and-a-half years, the speed breakers had nothing to do with the lower number of accidents. “Allah has been merciful. Fatal accidents aren’t happening here,” said a happy Qadri. “Minor accidents do occur every now and then. Most of the accidents occur with pedestrians or with cars which drive on the wrong side, even before the bumps were built.”
Published in The Express Tribune, August 4th, 2012.