THERE are a number of cities around the globe famous and popular by their nick names for one or more peculiar and distinctive features associated with that city.
Just two decades ago, Karachi was known as the City of Lights and a city which never sleeps. Unfortunately, it is now a city of darkness, madness and killings.
Jaipur in India is famous as the ‘Pink City’, Rome is called the ‘City of Love’, Mexico, Maysore and Kolkata are popular as cities of palaces. People profoundly call Manila and Texas as Queen Cities, while a number of world cities are called ‘city of lakes’ and ‘city of trees’.
The heart of Pakistan, our beloved Lahore, will soon become famous as the ‘city of toll plazas’ as toll collection booths are appearing very fast on different roads of Lahore.
The first such makeshift toll plaza appeared on the entry point of Defence Phase V, now one is being constructed at Khayaban-i-Iqbal and another one at the entry of Defence Phase VIII.
Earlier, when finally a much-delayed Ring Road project was completed, the people of Lahore and the surrounding area felt relieved. The road was constructed without keeping any provision for toll collection booths. But now one can see toll plazas at every entry point of Ring Road.
Toll tax all over the world is collected on newly-constructed bridges and highways but nowhere within the city limits. Lahore has probably the distinctive mark of being the only city in the world to have toll collection booths within the city limits.
The people of Lahore made a history by making the biggest national flag and getting into the Guinness Book of Records, soon the people of Lahore will be proud to see the name of Lahore in Guinness Book of Records as the city with highest number of toll plazas.
The much-needed Lahore-Sheikhupura-Faislabad Road was constructed a couple of years ago. It was the first BOT project, but on the whole stretch of the road on which the main commuter is the labour class, the poor of the poorest, is loaded and stuffed with toll plazas, with an extremely high rate of toll tax which increases almost every year.
The transporters very conveniently transfer the increase on toll to the poor passengers.
I request the authorities concerned to demolish all toll plazas within the city limits and reduce the toll tax on Lahore Sheikhupura-Faislabad Road to a mere minimum and exempt the public transport on this route from paying the toll tax so that the poor working class gets some relief.
AAMIR AQIL Lahore