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Driving the point home: On the road for hours

LAHORE: Development work on some of the city’s main roads means that most commuters are liable to spend their summer caught in traffic jams.

The Punjab government has started major road repairs and construction of new underpasses and a flyover along several main roads in the city. Multan Road has been under construction for more then a year and work on expansion of Bhatta Chowk has stopped traffic near Ghazi Road, as well as along the main arteries approaching the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) heading towards the Lahore Airport.

Many commuters have said that this alternate traffic plan has caused them to miss flights after being caught in traffic jams.

The main concern for commuters this summer is construction work at Kalma Chowk, Ferozepur Road, which is expected to take ten months.

Construction work on the Kalma Chowk Lahore flyover is in the initial stages. Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif announced at the groundbreaking that he wanted the project to be completed and inaugurated on August 14. Engineers see this as near impossible.

Traffic officer Saleem said “An alternative route has been designated but we’re not sure it will be able to accommodate the number of commuters expected to pass this way.” Traffic authorities say that they are already anticipating traffic jams at Centre Point, Bank Alfalah Square and on Canal Road towards Punjab University.

“I generally enjoy driving around the city but I don’t expect that to last long. Summer traffic will be a disaster this year but I hope we will all benefit once the flyover is completed,” said Model Town resident Bilal Hanif.

Niaz Ahmad, who travels by public transport, said “I cross Kalma Chowk every day to get to work and it’s hard enough without being caught in traffic jams for hours and that too in the summer.” Ahmed said he was planning to allocate an extra hour to his commute to keep his job.

“I live in Model Town and drive my kids to school in Gulberg every morning. I will have to wake up at the crack of dawn to make sure they get to school in time every day,” said Mrs Shams.

Asif Zafar Cheema, Saddar SP Traffic told The Express Tribune that 100 wardens and six DSP’s had already been deputed to control traffic at Kalma Chowk in three shifts. He said that the number of wardens would be increased if required.

“We will try to direct traffic in at least two lanes at Ferozepur Road while the construction work is underway. When the traffic load exceeds the capacity we will divert it towards Gaddafi Stadium,” he said.

“We may have to keep creating alternative routes to accommodate traffic depending on the situation and the time it takes for the construction to be completed,” Cheema said.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 21st, 2011.

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