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Islamabad

January 18, 2015
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Motive behind the Shah Khalid Colony underpass?

Islamabad

January 18, 2015

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Pedestrians’ nightmares are many in Rawalpindi, but immensely narrow Shah Khalid Colony Bazaar, one of the busiest bazaars on Airport Link Road, is the worst, facing severe traffic congestion due to the vendors occupying the road, heavy vehicles carrying building material and goods, forcing their way through to localities situated around and beyond the colony bazaar and erratic loading and unloading of goods during the day.
“It is the main bazaar for residents of the colonies nearby like Noorani Mohallah, Dhoke Kamal Din, Dhoke Muhammad Khan, Dhoke Lilyaal, Dhoke Hafiz, Tajabad and Fazal Town. As the bazaar is located close to these localities, the area remains overcrowded most of the time. The area has become too commercialised due to mushrooming of shops of every kind and small eateries in recent years,” says Shabeeh Hussain, a social activist.
“The available space is too narrow to allow even two cars to move alongside each other, not to talk of the entry of heavy vehicles like dumpers and trucks. The road is not wide enough to take too much vehicles. Thus, the safety of shoppers and pedestrians is really endangered. They are not able to walk smoothly through the bazaar when vehicles’ volume increases,” says Munawwar Ahmad, a resident.
Muhammad Hasan, a dweller of the area, says the situation has deteriorated to such an extent that in times of medical emergency, an ambulance cannot enter the bazaar due to traffic congestion and has to take a detour to get to the area.
“Autos and four-wheelers trying to squeeze past each other in the narrow road, is a common sight here. Moreover, haphazard parking by shoppers and shopkeepers anywhere and everywhere, and that too, in a disorderly manner is not rare,” Faraz Ali, a regular road-user, points out.
“The underpass built at the junction of Railway Colony, Dhoke Kamaldin-Noorani Mohallah has encouraged even more traffic through the bazaar. Thus, the city authorities’ attempts

appear to be misaligned with actual needs and have worsened the traffic chaos in the bazaar," says Mehmood-ul-Hasan, a civil engineer by profession.
“The bazaar road has become messy because of the parking issues mainly due to bikes and cars stopping and people getting off them to go to shops, which are plenty here. Something needs to be done to restrict heavy vehicles or private cars on the road during schools’ opening and closing hours at least, says Hamid Hussain, a schoolteacher.
“Jam free movement on city streets and bazaars can happen with improved driving discipline only and not by any magic box solution. A lot of jams are because of drivers’ bad behavior. Even in wider bazaars, there are traffic jams simply because Rawalpindi drivers don't know how to drive, as part of driving is getting along with other drivers and not simply pressing the accelerator, clutch, horn and brake and steering the car, says Mohsin Taqi, a trader in the area.
“If we convert the bazaar to one-way then the purpose of underpass is lost as it was built to connect the colonies lying on both sides of the railway track. And if we restrict entry of specific vehicles, the principle of equality will be violated. The bazaar road can neither be converted to one-way nor can it be made vehicle-specific as it will encourage one section while putting the other at disadvantage,” says Amjad Ali, a biker.
However, the traffic authorities have their own explanation on the issue, “It was not properly planned when developed. So, we can't do anything.”

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