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Islamabad

February 1, 2015

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Metro temporarily puts brakes on shopping

Even if it proves to be a boon in the long run, every infrastructure development churns out a certain amount of disorderliness and the Metro Bus Project on Murree Road is not different. The difference, perhaps, is that it is for the first time in the city’s history that this famous road is losing its charm, though for a short time.
“Both sides of the road are carrying traffic with great difficulty towards the side lanes. With the road shrinking to half its width and no parking space left, regular shoppers are reluctant to venture into Murree Road and this is translating into a dip in the sales figures of popular cloth and gold markets, restaurants, showrooms and food malls located on this road,” says Aqeel Abbas, a political activist.
The first choice seems to be the numerous malls in the vicinity which one can get to without having to trudge past the Metro Bus Project site. Many people this scribe spoke to said: “We prefer to go to malls where we have a similar range of choices, be it shopping, entertainment, food or parking, rather than getting caught for hours in a traffic pile-up.”
“People used to reach here from every part of the city within 10-15 minutes, but now it takes almost an hour because of the improvised U-turns and long traffic jams. This is definitely affecting our sales figure,” says Reza Asad, the manager of Zari House.
Hotels and wedding halls on the road are other places facing a slump. “The dust from the construction site is affecting number of customers to hotels and booking of wedding halls has suffered,” says Afraz Askari, who has worked at a hotel at Committee Chowk and a wedding hall. “The lack of parking space and the dust is evidently leading customers in search of alternate areas,” adds Afraz.
Incidentally, a few shops located alongside the Metro’s path are doing good business although the parking space there is not at its best. Sughra Hussain, who used to shop at Murree Road says, “My

family now prefers to travel by a wagon or Suzuki since it takes off the burden of looking for a parking space.”
Shoppers also complaint about the profusion of U-turns at the Murree Road, which means longer routes, increased waiting time and a complete traffic squeeze. “When it rains heavily, the condition is even worse. The area from Liaquat Bagh to Waris Khan sees heavy traffic density, more so because this stretch of road is in a pathetic state. Rain water, sewage water inundates the dug-up footpaths and heaps of dirt, broken bricks and crushed stones lying in a disorderly manner add to the problems for pedestrians,” says Rizwan Ali, a resident of Kohati bazaar.
“I am terribly waiting for the completion of Metro Bus Project and the re-carpeting of Murree Road so that I can comfortably walk up to my shop. The road at the moment is bad, if not worse for walking,” says Qambar Rizvi, a shopkeeper near Waris Khan.
“The road, for the time being, is nearly nightmarish for pedestrians. One night I wanted to go from the Rawal Road and Murree Road T-junction to Benazir Bhutto Hospital wagon-Suzuki stop in order to catch a taxi for Dhoke Syeddan. How I along with my colleague walked through darkness towards my destination, where heavy machinery was already at work, proved a terrible experience,” says Nazia Batool, an NGO head.

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