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Traffic management remains a pipe dream

LAHORE: TRAFFIC management remained a dream, which has yet to come true for the citizens during the year 2010 as despite spending a huge amounts on ‘improvement of roads infrastructure’, the civic departments have miserably failed to resolve traffic problems.

Traffic mess on almost every City road is still an unresolved problem and this speaks volumes of the professional incompetence and negligence of the town planners and roads traffic engineers, who have been running the affairs of the Lahore Development Authority (LDA), City District Government Lahore (CDGL), Town Municipal Administrations and Traffic Engineering and Planning Agency (Tepa).

Traffic jams have now become a routine feature in the provincial capital and adds to mental trauma of the people delaying them from reaching their destinations on time. It also irritates and frustrates people especially those travelling in an emergency.

One can witness worst traffic situations at peak hours on Jail Road, Canal Bank Road, Ferozepur Road, Wahdat Road, Ponch Road, Multan Road (from Yateem Khana to Morr Samanabad), The Mall, Hall Road, Temple Road, Queens Road, Davis Road, Egerton Road, McLeod Road, Railway Road, Circular Road and etc. At peak hours, vehicles on these roads crawl the whole day to much inconvenience and nuisance of the commuters.

Illegal parking stands, wrong halting points allotted to commuter wagons and motorcycle rickshaws on roads, inadequate parking facilities by multi-storey buildings, improper functioning of traffic signals, overlapping timings of offices and educational institutions, slow moving vehicles on main roads, massive encroachments, poor condition of roads, violation of traffic rules, increasing number of private vehicles and lack of public transport system were some of the major reasons for traffic muddles during the year 2010 and ironically no adequate measures were taken to remove these problems.

One of the most important causes of traffic mess was absence of linkage between main roads as well as presence of road maidens to divert traffic. One such example is Ferozepur Road, especially at Chungi Amarshadhu where traffic remains congested at peak hours. Reason for this was that at this point traffic coming from Kasur towards Lahore and vehicles coming on main road from adjacent localities get mixed with each other. Similar is the case at Qainchi stop, which is just a half kilometre away from the earlier spot.

Road engineers suggested that traffic on this part of the road could be smooth if Tepa constructs road maidens at these spots to divides traffic so that both lanes did not mix with each.

Similarly, traffic congestion at Bhatta Chowk, Defence was another spot which need immediate attention of the town planners. Engineers suggest construction of a flyover or an underpass at the spot to keep the traffic going and coming from the Lahore airport smooth and uninterrupted.

Morr Samanabad, Yateem Khana and Scheme Morr are three trouble spots on Multan Road where traffic jams occur regularly. All these three spots also need flyovers and underpasses to cater for the traffic load. Canal Bank Road (from Jinnah Hospital to Campus bridge and then from FCC underpass till Jail Road underpass) are trouble spots, which need immediate solution. The project of remodelling of Canal Bank Road was stopped by a court so Tepa can not construct anything at these spots but alternate measures and road links could improve the situation. On Jail Road, traffic is blocked outside Lahore College at peak hours and Tepa could impose a ban on parking vehicles on the road to avoid traffic congestion. Similarly, Qurtaba Chowk also needs a flyover to cater for the traffic coming from Queens Road, Lytton Road, Bahawalpur Road, Jail Road and Temple Road. This one of the most important crossings in the City was widened and remodelled in the year 2010 but it still needs attention.

Several points on The Mall including Hall Road crossing, High Court crossing, Bank Square crossing and GPO crossing are also witnessing hours long traffic jams and needs remodelling and widening.

City town planners and roads engineers did not bother to provide spaces for wagon, motorcycle rickshaws and buses at the time of road construction while no monitoring was done at the roads where bus bays were present to ensure their proper use.

Traffic signals, which play an important role in regulating smooth traffic, were not seen working properly on many occasions during the year. The practice of disconnecting traffic signals by traffic wardens to provide an easy travelling to VIPs at peak hours is another problem responsible for traffic jams in the City.

The town planners’ indifference to make separate arrangements for slow moving traffic like cycles, bull-carts and animal driven vehicles had resulted in severe traffic muddles on the main roads.

Though the traffic police have banned the movement of cycles, tractor trollies and animal carts on several roads, no practical action was taken to stop them from using mainstream roads.

It is pertinent to mention here that the CDGL banned entry of slow moving vehicles on Ferozepur Road (from Muslim Town Morr to Icchhra) but the ban was not enforced. Parking of private vehicles and cars in front of buildings and commercial plazas on roads seemed as a permanent obstacle for traffic during the year 2010. Again, it was the failure of the town planners to ensure required parking spaces in the buildings. Besides, non-availability of proper parking stands in busy commercial and central areas of the City added to traffic problems, causing great inconvenience to the citizens.

Inadequate public transport system and the government’s failure in carrying out plans such as Light Rail Transit (LRT) project meant to improve traffic flow also resulted in increased traffic issues as well as compelling the citizens to get their own transports.

Though, some of the roads were widened, the situation remained the same in most of the City localities. Presence of potholes and dilapidating conditions of various roads also caused serious traffic issues. Some examples were Allama Iqbal Road, Canal Bank Road (from Shah De Khoi to Campus Morr), main road Township, main road Faisal Town and Allama Shabbir Ahmed Usmani Road (leading to Jinnah hospital from Barkat Market Chowk), which were in very bad condition but no patchwork was done.

Khurram Inam, a road engineer was of the view that City road network was adequate but traffic planning was the missing link. He said road widening was not the solution for solving traffic mess and added that traffic could be controlled smoothly on much smaller roads but with proper planning, providing missing links and removing bottlenecks.

Director Traffic Engineering Tepa Israr Saeed said Tepa has planned construction of three flyovers at Morr Samanabad, Yateem Khana and Hussain Chowk. He said flyovers and interchanges at these three points would ease traffic pressure from Multan Road. He further said that several new road links had been developed during the year 2010 such as remodelling and construction of Maulana Shaukat Ali Road, which links Ferozepur Road with Canal Bank Road and ultimately with Multan Road at Thokar Niaz Baig.

Answering a question about converting all traffic signals on solar energy, he said the proposal was not viable because of the heavy air pollution and carbon emissions in the City. He said carbon emissions affected the performance of solar cells due to which Tepa was considering other options to save energy.

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