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January 14, 2018

Dusty Peshawar becomes dustier due to BRT, lack of rains


January 14, 2018

PESHAWAR: The provincial capital was already known as a dusty city, but the drought-like conditions and the massive construction activity has added to the woes of its inhabitants.

There is dust everywhere, even in environmentally better places such as Hayatabad and the outskirts of Peshawar where there is greenery and less traffic. Many people have regularly started wearing dust mask to protect themselves from the dusts in crowded Peshawar.

The places most affected by the dust are those located in close proximity to the route of the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT), the massive road project meant to provide better transportation facility to commuters. Once completed, the BRT is supposed to ease Peshawar’s traffic problems, but right now it has created traffic jams in most of the city localities.

An advice often heard is not to go out of your home unnecessarily for the next six months, the period of time given by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led provincial government to contractors to complete the project. However, people cannot afford to stay at home as they need to work to make a living. And by the time one is on the road after leaving home, it becomes a struggle to reach your destination in time. One has to keep a margin going anywhere as the old estimates for travelling time won’t work in the new scheme of things. Worse still is the amount of dust one has to inhale while moving around the city.

The PTI government no doubt is in a hurry after waiting until the end of its five-year term to start the project and not before making fun of similar metro bus projects built by the rival Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) governments in the centre and in Punjab. The so-called “Jangla Bus” is now coming to Peshawar after having proved a success in Lahore and Islamabad. One wishes the ruling PTI too had undertaken the BRT project earlier and ensured quality so that grateful users of its new airconditioned buses would have enjoyed the ride and voted for the party in the 2018 general election. It is now a race against time and ensuring quality work would be a challenge. A delay in completing the project would put off the electorate while inferior quality of work on BRT would give opportunity to PTI’s opponents to question performance of its government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Timely rains would have helped settle the dusts, but this winter has been dry and chilly. There has been only one rainfall until now and people worried about the impending drought have started praying for rains. The lack of rains and the dust particles in the air is causing diseases, particularly coughs, and affecting lungs. People are complaining everywhere and one way of venting their anger is to target the government for its ill-planned development plans. The government has tried to ease the traffic problems and is pushing the contractors to complete the BRT in time, which means before the next polls. The people won’t mind if the project is completed timely, the quality of work isn’t compromised and the bus service to be offered is of high standard. They would forget their suffering if the end-product is good and durable.

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