WHEN it comes to providing public facilities, the City District Government Lahore (CDGL) favours posh localities by giving much attention to aesthetics and incorporating modern technology in projects.
One can see two nicely decorated pedestrian bridges on Jail Road. These bridges were set up in front of Kinnaird College and Lahore College Women University so that students may use them to cross this busy road. Ironically, majority of students of the two colleges especially the Kinnaird College do not use these pedestrian bridges much because their families pick them up from the college entrance.
These bridges are without stairs and are covered to protect people from rain and sunlight. Flower baskets also beautify these bridges. Two policemen are usually deputed to each bridge throughout the day to ensure safety of those using bridges.
On the other hand, pedestrian bridge at Ichhra, one of the busiest commercial centres of the city, is unusable due to lack of proper maintenance, encroachments, presence of beggars and eve teasers.
There are around one dozen overhead pedestrian bridges in the City out of which two are in the vicinity of the Punjab University, one each at Ichhra, Mozang, The Mall, Delhi Gate, Queen Marry College, Badami Bagh, Bund Road, GT Road near UET and one in Cantonment area. Bridges of the Punjab University, Cantonment and Queen Marry College are not maintained by the City District Government Lahore and town administrations.
The overhead pedestrian bridges of Ichhra, Delhi Gate, Mozang are among the oldest and in a poor condition. These overhead pedestrian bridges were constructed in late 80’s by then municipal government. The overhead pedestrian bridges of Ichhra and Mozang are located on Ferozpur Road while the overhead pedestrian bridge at Delhi Gate was constructed on Circular Road.
Among the three, the overhead pedestrian bridge of Ichhra is the most-used pedestrian bridge in the City but no attention is paid on its maintenance and management. The main floor of the bridge is damaged and its floor plates have been displaced leaving gaps which could prove dangerous for people especially at night.
There is no lighting arrangement on any of the bridge and at night crossing these overhead pedestrian bridges is fraught with risks. One could be a victim of robbers waiting in dark while females could be harassed by unruly youth. The bridge is also encroached upon by a number of vendors, who display their wares on floor leaving hardly any place for pedestrians. Beggars especially children also frequent the bridges and nag people.
Unlike bridges on Jail Road, no other bridge has a ramp and it is literally impossible for aged and handicapped people to climb the stairs in the scorching heat. Railings of these bridges made of steel become very hot in summer.
Mrs Khurram, a middle age woman who was crossing the road from beneath the Ichhra pedestrian bridge, said it was very hard for her to climb stairs of the bridge. She said the bridge was occupied by encroachers, beggars and eve teasers. “Several policemen are standing under the bridge but none of them stops encroachers and beggars from bothering people,” she said.
The Circular Road’s overhead pedestrian bridge located outside Delhi Gate is not in use due to the blockage of both of its entrances by encroachers. Delhi Gate is one the major bazaars of the City and a large number of people come to this place for shopping on a daily basis. One entrance to the bridge is blocked by fruit and vegetable vendors who do not allow anyone to go upstairs while the other entrance is occupied by fish vendors. This bridge has been out of use for the last few years and has become rusty and fragile. People of the area face serious problems in crossing the Circular Road as the bridge is blocked by vendors.
The overhead pedestrian bridge at Mozang is also not in use as the main bus stop of the area has moved away from the bridge. Several vendors have also established their business under the bridge and allegedly bribe the CDGL officials concerned on a monthly basis to stay on.
Executive District Officer (Works) Khwaja Imran said pedestrian bridges of Ichhra, Mozang and Delhi Gate were constructed many years ago when available technology was different. He said presently there was no space available to construct a new bridge at these places on the pattern of Jail Road bridges. He, however, admitted that bridges could be covered to save pedestrians from sunlight and rain. He said these bridges could be decorated and illuminated to make them safe at night.
He said the department had planned to launch an awareness campaign through schoolchildren regarding the use of pedestrian bridges. He said the campaign will be launched in the coming days. He also appealed to the general public to use pedestrian bridges instead of crossing roads by breaking iron fences.
About encroachments and presence of beggars on pedestrian bridges, he said his department was only responsible for the maintenance of bridges.
Source: The News