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Of traffic jams in Abbottabad and suggested solutions


March 3, 2016

ABBOTTABAD: The Abbottabad city has become one of the worst cities of the country known for frequent traffic jams that stretch for hours.

The main Abbottabad town and its extensions towards north are bisected by Mansehra Road, which is part of the international Karakoram Highway, commonly known as KKH. Abbottabad, not too long ago, was once considered as a city with most disciplined traffic regulated by the most dedicated and trained traffic police officials. That is not the case anymore.

After the earthquake of 2005 demography of Abbottabad changed considerably and after influx of people who migrated from Malakand, South and North Waziristan, followed by military operations, the demographic changes multiplied, hence increase in local population and vehicular traffic.

Citizens of Abbottabad had formed a Citizens Traffic Committee (CTC) in 1993 - a loosely-knit voluntarily but disciplined entity — that consisted of citizens who were concerned about the implementation of traffic rules to all and sundry and regulation of smooth traffic flow in Abbottabad.

The CTC helped local traffic police to educate drivers of public service vehicles, students, teachers and general public by holding frequent awareness programmes and question-answer sessions held regularly in schools, offices and by involving unions of drivers in the city in order to impart training.

The CTC also held training workshops to train local traffic police officials by experts in the field of traffic management and regulation from federal capital.

At that time the CTC was represented by lawyers, journalists and other concerned citizens. One of the incumbent honourable Justice of Peshawar High Court was also its member.

Regular meetings of CTC used to be held with traffic police to regulate traffic in the city and discuss traffic-related issues and to create awareness amongst cross section of the society regarding observance of traffic rules. It was a success story until when some of the then police officers started discouraging CTC by applying different means. Commuters who commute between Abbottabad and Haripur and Mansehra and vice versa on daily basis face traffic jams extended to two to three hours from Salhad to Piffer Chowk. In summer season which witnesses a large number of tourists’ influx traffic jams get worse and stretch to several hours, thus creating hardships for tourists and locals alike.

Tanveer Afzal Khan, a retired banker and a former active member of CTC, while talking to The News, has suggested that provincial government should start a commuter bus service from Fowwara Chowk to Ayub Medical Complex by inviting private sector into it.

This bus service, according to Tanveer Afzal would help transport a large number of commuters from one place to another and on the other hand it will help reduce the number of Suzuki pick-ups - being mostly used as means of transportation of general public - the major cause of traffic jams on Mansehra road. The newly posted and the maiden female Deputy Commissioner Abbottabad, Ammara Khattak also seems concerned over the frequent traffic jams in Abbottabad.

In an informal chit-chat with this scribe she said she would welcome any suggestions from general public and civil society to overcome traffic-jam-issues in Abbottabad.  It is said that discipline of the residents of any city could be gauged from the fact that how organized or disorganized is the traffic in their city. Abbottabad was once a city known for its disciplined and smooth flow of traffic but sadly not any more. Now it’s up to the local administration and police to work out a plan that can do away with traffic jams in Abbottabad with the help and implementable suggestions of concerned local residents by having their input and expertise.

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