Clogged roads: Wellcome to Lahore!


Areas adjacent to the walled city on Wednesday witnessed a massive traffic jam that lasted for hours because of the 969th annual Urs celebrations of Lahore’s patron sufi saint Hazrat Ali bin Usman Alhajveri.
Thousands of devotees from all over the country arrived to take part in the celebrations which resulted in clogged roads, forcing traffic authorities to redirect traffic on alternate routes.
Major roads of the city such as Mall Road, Lower Mall, Yadgar Chowk, Bati Chowk, Ferozepur Road, McLoad Road, Mochi Gate, Shah Alam Market, Lohari, Bhaati and link roads were also blocked due to a large number of vehicles.
Citizens of Lahore are not new to clogged roads.
Heavy construction work across the city to facilitate Rapid Bus Metro System (BRTS) has resulted in a traffic mess that has tested the patience of citizens over several months.
Similarly, construction work on the Kalma Flyover has made it difficult for commuters to find alternate routes to get to their destinations.
Talking to Pakistan Today, Hussain, a regular commuter in the city, said that the only reason people were putting up with the traffic mess in the city was because of promises by the provincial government that the situation would be resolved soon.
“This has been going on for almost a year,” he said. “I can only hope that we see some tangible results soon because if not, I am not voting for PML-N again.”
Another commuter, Sarah, said that traveling within the city had been become extremely difficult because there was no knowing when a road would become clogged with traffic.
“Every day is a new day when it comes to traffic in the city,” she said. “I can’t even predict what the rush hours will be because there is a new reason for a traffic jam every day.”
Another motorist, Akbar, said that the traffic problem had become especially harder because of the increasing number of vehicles on the road and the lack of proper parking spaces.
“Everyday, one hears that the government has taken notice of the traffic situation and will act soon. I don’t know how soon is their soon,” he said.
Hadia, a marketing executive by profession, complained that even alternate routes were clogged with traffic.
“When there are so many cars on the road and a small team of traffic wardens directing these cars, what do you expect?”
She said that there was no proper coordination between traffic wardens for diverting traffic to alternate routes.
Hafiz Jamil, a rickshaw driver, said that his job had become a nightmare because it forced him to commute between various sections of the city. “Today, the situation in the walled city was terrible. I was stuck with a passenger for two hours without moving an inch.”
Speaking to Pakistan Today, Chief Traffic Police Officer (CTO) Captain (r) Sohail assured the citizens that there was a proper diversion plan in place for directing traffic for the occasion for the Urs.
“We announced a traffic plan for the Urs celebrations days in advance,” he said. “We placed ads in newspapers at least five days before the celebrations began.”
He further said that the traffic situation would be eased today (Thursday) as there was a local holiday.
“We are expecting lesser traffic because fewer vehicles are expected to be on the roads due to the local holiday.”
Furthermore, he said that the traffic situation on Wednesday was harder because there were two processions taken out on the occasion of the Urs.
“There will be lesser traffic because there are no processions expected on Thursday,” he said.
He further said that people could send an SMS to 8001, which would then instruct them about closed roads and alternate routes. He further said that traffic information was being constantly updated on FM 88.6.
Moreover, the CTO said traffic situation would be eased once MM Alam Road was reopened. He gave a tentative date of January 15 for its reopening. He further said that BRTS would be launched on January 31, which would ease the traffic woes of citizens.