Iftar-time traffic congestion
By: Mohammad Saleem Shahid
Nowadays, all the main roads in Rawalpindi and Islamabad are plagued with long traffic jams. Traffic is worst jammed an hour before iftar. Then it is mayhem.
There is no such thing as traffic rules, discipline, sanity, plain or simple courtesy. If fasting is supposed to teach patience and forbearance, it certainly did not have the desired effect on some people stuck up in the traffic mess!
In Islamabad, traffic is primarily jammed occasionally on Blue Area Road and in Aabpara Chowk. In Blue Area, both sides of the road are narrow which hinder smooth flow of the traffic.
Aabpara Chowk is a busy area of the city. Residents prefer to visit the locality to buy each and everything of the daily use items.
In Rawalpindi, traffic jams are a natural corollary to the massive rush of vehicles on the roads. Roads and streets leading to Saddar, Murree Road, Saidpur Road, Satellite Town, Faizabad-Pirwadhai Road, Pirwadhai-Raja Bazar Road, Rawal Road, Liaquat Road, Chah Sultan, City-Saddar Road, Iqbal Road, Kashmiri Bazar, Namak Mandi, Tench Bhatta, Chungi No. 22, Kalma Chowk and Adiala Road witness heavy traffic jams round the clock.
During Ramazan, traffic jams are frequently witnessed. Among the various reasons for traffic jams on the twin-city roads, driver’s indiscipline, disregard for traffic rules and lack of common road courtesy are few commonly seen reasons, besides these reasons, non-provision of mandatory parking spaces in the main areas and roads is also an other factor.
Our builders take pride in construction of illegal, oversized buildings at traffic choke-points without ensuring that the requisite mandatory parking spaces have been provided.
"It is interesting that most of the time traffic jams are seen before Iftar. The district administrations of both the cities should take serious notice of rising traffic jams at the busy arteries of the twin cities and direct the traffic police to ensure smooth flow of traffic round the clock," says Mohammad Amin, a commuter stuck up in a traffic mess on Murree Road.
Nawazish Ali, a student says that "traffic signals on all the streets should be functional and the concerned police authorities should ensure presence of the traffic policemen at the signals to avoid any traffic jam. Police should ensure smooth flow of traffic around the business centres and take maximum measures to facilitate the people coming for shopping to different shopping centres of the twin cities." He added.
"The police should launch a special drive in the twin cities to check traffic jams during the holy month of Ramazan," opines Raja Nazir, a businessman. "Roadside venders, encroachments and the dilapidated conditions of the roads are the main cause of traffic jams in Rawalpindi and Islamabad," he observed.
Amjad Mahmood, a civil servant, was of the view that, "encroachments, absence of service roads and occupation of footpaths by the vendors are some of the causes of serious traffic chaos in the twin cities. In the afternoons and evenings, the traffic situation worsens to the point beyond tolerance level. While at the same time, the inter-city traffic increases as the workers have to go back to their homes as well as to other towns and villages after the end of the day."
"The continuous traffic jams compel the traffic police to switch traffic signals off to handle the flow manually which further worsens the situation. There is no planning to streamline traffic flow on twin cities busiest roads," Ishaq Hussain said, a shopkeeper in Committee Chowk, Rawalpindi.
The local wagons, busses and pick-ups terminals in the prime locality have also created innumerable bottlenecks in the smooth flow of traffic—a fact that is generally not mentioned by the traffic police officials for reasons, which are no secret for anybody. Besides the terminal, there are hundreds of medium-sized trucks moving on the roads leading to railway station at any given time. This is also a factor in the congestion on the city roads.
Traffic congestion on busy twin-city roads has been one of the most persistent challenges facing the civic authorities. Every now and then they come up with contingency plans and announce mega development projects to divert traffic load but most of the times such efforts are short-lived. This speaks district government’s failure to give good roads and end encroachment on busy roads and bazaars of the twin cities.
Hundreds of Suzuki pick-ups, motorcycle rickshaws and pushcarts plying in Rawalpindi bazaars may also be a nuisance for traffic chaos. The so many pushcarts apparently moving at a snail’s pace amidst the fast moving vehicles do create traffic problems. They park their pushcarts and motorcycle rickshaws along roadside during the day creating problems for the pedestrians.—INFN