The life of a daily commuter has become excruciatingly challenging
Living in Lahore can at times be likened to playing a game of dodge ball, albeit without the adrenaline rush. This has been especially true recently.
It started with the overwhelming spread of the pandemic, Lahore being a hotbed of coronavirus. Then the green shirts lost the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup semi-finals. This loss hurt the avid Lahori cricket fan more than Lahore Qalandar’s defeat in any Super League match ever.
If this wasn’t enough, we had a high number of deaths due to the dengue fever. Wait, there’s more. The dollar price skyrocketed and, consequently, the fuel prices, which are likely to go further up. Not to mention, the fuel shortages due to the cross-country strikes.
Just when you thought this would be enough to keep your hands full, the annual smog season is in full swing. This time it is even worse than before. Or, so it seems.
There has been no lockdown in the country for quite some time, which basically means that people are back in offices and children are finally getting in-class teaching. However, it also means breathing in the toxic air every day. Moreover, with the petrol prices going through the roof, the life of a daily commuter has become excruciatingly challenging.
The smog might not quite bother those who commute in a four-wheel vehicle, but the petrol prices would likely break your back if you owned both a two-wheeler (which consumes less fuel) and a four-wheeler and you didn’t seem to pick the lesser evil. After all, pulling out your motorbike means greater exposure to the hazardous air.
Whether you ride a motorbike or travel in a car, it’s a lose-lose situation. The fuel prices may not affect the privileged class, except for the long hours they are condemned to wait in queues at the petrol stations, but the smog is likely to hit us all, and actually cause serious health problems to those with regular and increased exposure and those with weak immune systems.
Again, the smog might not bother those who commute in a four-wheel vehicle, but the petrol prices would likely break your back if you own both a two-wheeler (which consumes less fuel) and a four-wheeler and don’t pick the lesser evil. After all, pulling out your motorbike means greater exposure to the hazardous air. Choose your poison, as they say.
It is a little too soon to tell if the government’s latest decision to shut down schools and offices over the weekends and Mondays will make enough of a difference. Most schools and offices are closed over the weekend in any case, so it is essentially a longer weekend. With things back to normal for the remaining days of the week, it is a little confusing as to how this will check the problem in a sustainable manner. Only time will tell.
The writer is a training and development advisor at a German development organisation. She can be reached at saniyanasir3gmail.com