Sit-in against the Quetta carnage continued on the second consecutive day as protesters blocked major routes including Islamabad Highway, Zero Point and Benazir Bhutto Road, forcing many commuters to regret they had ventured out of their homes.
Sit-in by activists of Majlis-e-Wahdatul Muslimeen and Milli Yakjehti Council created a traffic jam on Benazir Bhutto Road, Saddar, Raja Bazaar, Airport Road and other arteries, testing the nerves and driving skills of motorists stuck in the gridlock.
Thousands of vehicles were stuck for several hours causing immense problems for commuters. “It normally takes me 20 to 25 minutes to reach my office but today the traffic jam is testing everyone’s patience,” said Zohaib, an employee headed towards the Secretariat. I left for office early in the morning to avoid the traffic jam but my efforts were in vain, he added. “I have been stranded here for the last three hours.”
The traffic snarl brought routine life to a halt in Rawalpindi as vehicles heading to Islamabad got stuck on Benazir Bhutto Road, Liaquat Road, Saddar, Iqbal Road, College Road, Kashmiri Bazaar, Circular Road, Asghar Mall Road, Commercial Market, Fifth Road and Sixth Road.
Traffic wardens faced immense problems in controlling the traffic even after diverting it to alternative routes. Safdar Shehzad, a commuter who was stranded on Benazir Bhutto Road, said traffic wardens could not ease congestion on the road in normal days, let alone in extraordinary situations. “It would have been better to have stayed home,” he added. The traffic police failed to do their job despite their presence in large numbers.
Residents living near City Saddar Road, Ratta Amral Road, Gawalmandi and Kashmiri Bazaar suffered the most from traffic mismanagement. Neighbourhoods bordering these roads are congested even on normal workdays.
Zafar Abbas, who was going home from the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences with his ailing wife, said they had been stuck in traffic for hours.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 20th, 2013.