No place to walk: In Rawalpindi, pedestrians’ rights encroached upon

Published: November 12, 2012
Shopkeepers have encroached upon the few footpaths that do exist in Rawalpindi. PHOTO: MUHAMMAD JAVAID/EXPRESS

Shopkeepers have encroached upon the few footpaths that do exist in Rawalpindi. PHOTO: MUHAMMAD JAVAID/EXPRESS

RAWALPINDI: The only people seen walking on the streets in the garrison city are those who cannot afford cars or are unable to flag down a public van or taxi. Navigating the maze of traffic is much more of a challenge if you are on foot. With a few exceptions, there are no footpaths left in Rawalpindi.

In crowded markets, shopkeepers and hawkers encroach on the pavement. Without a footpath to walk on, it takes a lot of skill to weave through the assorted obstructions to get to one’s destination.

“I think it has gone from bad to worse, especially in Raja Bazaar and the surrounding area. There is no place to park the increasing number of cars, so they block the footpath. Pedestrians who want to use the footpath face obstructions because of vendors who set up everything from second-hand garments to tea stalls on the pavement,” said Ahmad Kamal, a customer in Bara Market. Even in residential areas, if there are any footpaths, they have been encroached upon.

“You can’t even see the footpath as every inch is covered with merchandise. You can barely walk on them except those that have been recently paved,” said Ashraf Hussain, a customer in Kashmiri Bazaar.

Footpaths have not been factored into planning, which is why there are so few of them, said Nasira Khanum, owner of a beauty parlour. “I can’t walk from my house in Chaklala Scheme III to Commercial Market as there is no pavement on either side of Imran Avenue.”

Asim Ali, another person walking on the road, said, “Auto workshops have encroached on the road like near National Market and shopkeepers have occupied whatever footpaths there are on Saidpur Road.”

“When footpaths are cleared by force, vendors return after a short break. Even widening roads has proved to be of little use as encroachers are quick to set up shop,” said Shabbir, a hawker outside Benazir Hospital.

Walking has become an ordeal in itself. Civic agencies frequently dig up footpaths, strewing mud and rocks everywhere for days on end, said Ghulam Ali, who walks every day to his shop in Marir from Moti Mahal. “A classic example is dumping construction material like bricks, sand and iron rods on the roads.”

“I find it shocking that we have to walk on the road at the risk of being run over by vehicles. There has, to date, been no specific focus on problems faced by pedestrians or steps to solve them,” he added.

Muhammad Riaz Butt, an electrician, recalled the past, when the city was less populated. “In those days since there was little traffic and we had no problem walking long distances. I used to walk from my house near Banni Chowk to Pindora Chungi when the area had not been commercialised.”

Published in The Express Tribune, November 12th, 2012.


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Reader Comments (16)

  • Sanam Niazi
    Nov 15, 2012 - 3:15PM

    Thanks for raising an important problem in Rawalpindi. Pedestrians need to be taken into account in every uplift plan of the city.


  • Ahsen Tragvi
    Nov 15, 2012 - 3:34PM

    There is a dire need of footpath at Shah Khalid Colony Service Road. On both sides of the road are many colonies. A huge number of people have to use the road daily. Walking on such a kind of road is not risk free,particularly for women, children and elderly people. Half of the road is always covered with garbage piles.


  • M Nawaz
    Nov 15, 2012 - 3:41PM

    Why don’t they nip the menace in the bud? Why don’t they bring the anti-encroachment squad and forbid the roving traders from establishing themselves as biggest encroachers on Rawalpindi roads?


  • J Batool
    Nov 15, 2012 - 3:50PM

    Stalls keep on spring up on the Pindi pavements and roads. Their numbers have gradually swelled. And when customers throng both sides of the roads to buy the required items, there is hardly any space left for their movement. Perhaps the authorities are extracting their pound of flesh from these stall owners for their stay.


  • M Ahmad
    Nov 21, 2012 - 2:38PM

    Not to talk of Raja Bazaar, even Liaquat Road sidewalks are difficult to walk because of extensions by shopkeepers. Moreover side streets are the worst.


  • Tehmina
    Nov 21, 2012 - 3:04PM

    In our neighborhood there is no separation between motor vehicles and pedestrians as there are no footpaths, therefore, no question of encroachment arises.


  • Nawaz Muhammad
    Nov 21, 2012 - 3:06PM

    On Iqbal Road, footpaths are blocked by electricity poles, signboard stands, parked bikes etc.


  • Habib
    Nov 21, 2012 - 3:09PM

    City footpaths are obstructed by commodities of shopkeepers, bus stands, mail boxes, news-stands, potholes, low tree branches/bushes etc.


  • Saba
    Nov 21, 2012 - 3:11PM

    The city managers continue to ignore: encroachments by hawkers and shopkeepers, advertisement stands, departments putting up electric transformers and telephone pillars, parking on walkways, storm water and sewerage drains with gaping holes. The hurdles are endless.


  • Noshad
    Nov 21, 2012 - 3:12PM

    Existing sidewalks are affected when road improvements are done. There is an urgent need to improve pedestrian facilities and to ensure that city roads are provided with adequate pavements on both sides.


  • Muhammad Zubair
    Nov 21, 2012 - 3:16PM

    Whether it is National Market on Kali Tanki Road, Murree Road, Saddar, the problems are no different. It is an all too familiar set of reasons. Perhaps, the concerned department officials think that pavements are not really necessary, because people don’t use them.


  • Abdul Suleman
    Nov 21, 2012 - 9:38PM

    Pedestrians’ collisions with motor vehicles is most likely on roads like Cantonment Hospital Road. In residential and mixed residential areas like ours in Babu Mohallah Bazaar in Cantonment Area, there is more possibility of occurrence of pedestrian crashes.


  • Syed Mateen
    Nov 22, 2012 - 5:13PM

    Yes, the men, the women, who are on the Cantonment Hospital Road for occupational reasons, the school-going boys and girls, the kids, the crowd that cross the road, the swarm that walk on footpaths or non-footpaths,- all of them are vulnerable indeed.


  • Nazakat
    Nov 26, 2012 - 1:33PM

    Footpaths in Saidpur Road area and many other localities of the city are not continuous and there are gaps in them. They are also not wide enough to comfortably accommodate at least two adults walking side by side, and are not clear of obstructions like parked vehicles, hawkers’ merchandise, restaurants’ extension and garbage containers.


  • Aijaz
    Nov 26, 2012 - 1:38PM

    Who is there to supervise things in the city? The administrative lacuna is quite prominent on many points of the city. Pedestrians suffer everyday on the roads, Saddar streets are one episode in this drama and the indifference of the city’s fathers to the sufferers is becoming intolerable.


  • Ghauri
    Nov 26, 2012 - 1:41PM

    Footpaths are not well maintained and are not free of cracks or elevated sections that become tripping hazards and barriers to vulnerable people like old guys and small kids. Instead of enhancing the appearance of the localities, these footpaths disfigure their faces


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