KARACHI: The city’s traffic system is likely to suffer serious issues on Oct 18 when the Pakistan Peoples Party stages a rally for which it has hired 3,000 city buses while police authorities have banned movement of heavy vehicles that day, ‘advising’ transporters to take alternative routes, it emerged on Thursday.
A meeting of DIG traffic with the city’s transporters and operators of heavy traffic came up with some decisions which suggested that though the rally would be held at a ground close to the Quaid-i-Azam mausoleum, it would not be just another day in other parts of the metropolis.
“The DIG traffic earlier requested us to avoid plying heavy traffic on Oct 18,” said Israr Ahmed Shinwari, common spokesman for operators of heavy traffic that includes oil tankers and commercial goods carriers.
“We agreed to that and now today’s meeting has decided that movement of heavy traffic will be banned on the city’s roads on Oct 18 from 6am to 10pm. On an average, 4,000 heavy vehicles move on the city’s roads on a daily basis,” he said.
The PPP plan to reinvigorate the party through the rally is being seen as a major response to a series of public gatherings and sit-ins by the Pakistan Awami Tehreek and the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf which recently staged a successful political show in Karachi.
The ruling party expects the rally under its young chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari to mobilise its workers in Karachi and other parts of the province but it surely will affect city life.
The authorities, however, claim nothing will happen that day which may affect normal life in the city because no major road will be blocked undera the traffic and security plan for the rally, neither the PPP has planned any other political activity save the rally near the Quaid’s mausoleum.
“Only the roads around the rally venue will be closed for security reasons,” said additional IG traffic Ghulam Qadir Thebo, who has also been looking after the charge of city police chief office since May 2014.
“For that we will deploy adequate traffic police force to help motorists divert on to alternative routes. Otherwise, there will be no blockades on Sharea Faisal, Shahrah-i-Pakistan or any other major road,” he said.
But the decisions made at the meeting between the DIG and transporters tell another story. The city which already faces a serious lack of public transport will lose some 3,000 buses on Oct 18, which has been hired by the PPP for transporting its workers to the rally venue from different parts of the city.
“We were approached by the PPP leaders who requested us to spare some 3,000 buses, minibuses and coaches for Oct 18,” said Irshad Bukhari of the Karachi Transport Ittehad.
“The good thing is that they are paying for each bus which we appreciated while other parties that hire the buses hardly make any payments. So our 3,000 buses will be at the disposal of PPP on Oct 18,” he said.
Sharing details of the meeting, he said the authorities had not placed any ban on the movement of public transport on Oct 18 but ‘advised’ the transporters to be careful and selective while plying buses on Saturday.
“Since hundreds of thousands of people are expected to take part in the rally, it will not be wise to move freely on roads on Saturday,” said Mr Bukhari.
“All routes to the mausoleum will definitely get jammed because of security arrangements and movement of a large number of people. So I don’t think it will be a normal day for the city residents and definitely the transport system will be seriously affected,” he said.
Published in Dawn, October 17th, 2014