Life for Rawalpindi’s residents is not about to get any easier as the traffic situation in the garrison city continues to deteriorate with each passing day.
The increasing number of vehicles, coupled with narrower roads means jams have become a routine affair, particularly during the mornings — when residents leave for work and school — mid-afternoon and evenings.
“Traffic congestion has become a daily hassle for us motorists who remain stuck for hours while going to and returning from work,” said Pirwadhai Mor resident Jameel Satti.
Satti said frequent power breakdowns rendered traffic signals non-functional, causing too much strain on wardens.
“A lack of civic sense among drivers is another cause of jams; most of them are either unaware of traffic rules or simply choose not to comply,” a warden patrolling Moti Mahal square said.
Protests staged against power outages and by party campaigners also cause major road blockages.
“Traffic is often diverted on Dhok Chiragh Din Road, Liaqat Bagh Road, Bagh-e-Sardaran and Tipu Road when VIP vehicles are in the area or during protests on Benazir Bhutto Road (BBR),” said the warden.
Squatters have set up encroachments on the roads, while car showroom owners park their vehicles on footpaths on large portions of BBR and Saddar.
“One will never find wardens during a traffic jam on the roads,” said a Dhok Chiragh Din shopkeeper Qadir Satti.
Road construction works are making life difficult for motorists on Pir Wadhai and Mareer Chowk.
Rawalpindi Development Authority Executive Engineer Umer Farooq said the authority was trying its best to complete the Mareer Tunnel project on a fast-track basis.
“We missed the May deadline but are trying to complete the project by June. We have made the road more spacious and opened it up for traffic,” he said.
Chief Traffic Officer Senior Superintendent Police Ishtiaq Hussain said the absence of public transport and easy instalment schemes offered by banks had resulted in more residents purchasing their own vehicles.
“We have witnessed a 200 per cent increase in the number of vehicles over the past 10 years, overcrowding the roads,” he said.
Hussain also termed development projects and a lack of interest from the concerned departments to remove encroachments as reasons for the increased congestion.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 19th, 2013.