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Fleeting moments

February 25, 2021

Traffic nightmare

Opinion

February 25, 2021

The purpose of holding sports events is to provide entertainment to the public and encourage young people to indulge in physical activities. However, when such activities become a source of trouble for the people instead of entertaining them, most people think they were better off without such fixtures.

The cricket matches held in the Gaddafi Stadium usually end up resulting in terrible traffic jams on many roads. People have to wait in long lines of vehicles and curse themselves for coming on to the roads when cricket teams are supposed to move back and forth. Even one side of Mall Road had been closed this time to the public to facilitate the players’ movement to and from a five-star hotel.

According to the traffic advisory issued by the government, the main roads leading to and from the Gaddafi Stadium had been blocked for routine traffic. People living in the residential areas in the vicinity of the stadium suffer the most, as they are practically confined to their homes. They could never imagine that cricket matches that once instilled a surge of exhilaration in them would now upset their daily lives this much.

And imagine the plight of those who are least interested in cricket but have to either reach their place of work or return home and they are stuck in traffic jams for hours. Under the prevailing economic conditions, a large majority of the people are only worried about earning their livelihood. Any activity that interferes in their daily pursuit to earn two square meals is considered a curse, not to talk about entertainment. Unfortunately, the upper layer of society doesn’t pay much heed to how the lower strata of society strives to meet the demands of keeping soul and body together.

A series of cricket matches is scheduled to be played from March 10-20 in the Gaddafi Stadium. My good friend Arif Nawaz, a US-trained software developer, who lives close to the stadium is keeping his fingers crossed. He is developing an intricate algorithm of scientific software for the international market and feels most unnerved by the commotion caused by the cricket matches, especially by the related security arrangements that result in the blockage of roads. Simply, it’s safety for a few and misery for the innumerable. And Ferozepur Road, on which the stadium is situated, is a main traffic thoroughfare.

As it is, the traffic conditions in the provincial capital are already chaotic. Roads are packed with all types of vehicles. Traffic wardens regulate traffic only on major road intersections. In fact, the strength of traffic wardens is much lower than the increasing intensity of vehicles on the roads. Apparently, more than 20,000 vehicles are added to city roads each month. Hence closing the roads for whatever reasons makes the situation nightmarish for road users.

Reportedly, it’s under government consideration to construct a hotel in the premises of the Gaddafi Stadium for the visiting teams. Cricketers and their coaches won’t have to go all the way to stay in five star hotels on Mall Road. And it will cost much less to provide them security. Since the matches aren’t played round the year, the empty hotel rooms could be rented out to earn revenue for the cricket board.

Now the largest cricketing event – the Pakistan Super League – has begun in Karachi. People expect the Sindh government will ensure that routine public life is not disturbed. Similarly, when the final of the Super League is played in Lahore, one expects the provincial government, while providing security to the players, will ensure that roads are not unduly blocked and people not inconvenienced. As a tennis player, I love sports but not at the cost of discomfort to the general public

The writer is a freelance columnist based in Lahore.

Email: [email protected]