Gridlock : In absence of signals, traffic police face insurmountable task

Say concerned authorities repeatedly ignored requests to install new systems.

A dysfunctional signal at FC Chowk. PHOTO: MUHAMMAD IQBAL/EXPRESS

PESHAWAR: A majority of traffic signals in the city’s busiest squares have not been functional for the past few years, forcing traffic police to manually direct the flow of vehicles.

Non-operational traffic signals in Hayatabad Phase III Square, Abdara Chowk University Road, Rehman Baba Square (popularly known as Suray Pul), Shoba Chowk and FC Chowk Saddar have received no attention from concerned departments.

FC Chowk lies in the jurisdiction of Peshawar Cantonment Board (PCB), but the board’s officials have not even bothered to reply to frequent letters sent by traffic police regarding the lack of automatic signals at the site.

A traffic police official requesting anonymity said the absence of functional automatic signal systems in the city’s busiest squares had further contributed to a worsening traffic situation in the city.

“Peshawar has already become a city of frequent traffic jams. It takes hours for one car to reach Hayatabad from GT Road,” he said. Traffic officials have written several letters to the Peshawar Development Authority (PDA) requesting the restoration of signals at Abdara Chowk, University Road, but nothing has come of it, he added.

“They told us PDA lacked the resources to address the situation,” said the official, adding that PCB had not replied to a single letter in the past year and a half. “Peshawar is no longer a small city of a few hundred thousand inhabitants and the number of people makes it extremely difficult to control traffic manually.”

The situation at Shoba Chowk, where an angry mob completely destroyed the square’s entire signal system, is largely the same.

The construction of Mufti Mehmood Flyover at Rehman Baba Square, in addition, has left the whole traffic signal system effectively out of use for the past year.

An official of PDA told The Express Tribune the purchase of a new system requires a minimum of Rs2.5 million and that Rs300,000 was needed for repairs alone. The official said many signals were not operational because demonstrators had damaged them in protests against the anti-Islam film ‘Innocence of Muslims’. We do not have the funds to install new systems, he added.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 9th, 2013.


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