It’s been two years since the PTI government took over. With huge promises of ‘change’ for a ‘Naya KP’… and by its extension ‘Naya Peshawar’. But precious little has changed for the better rather it’s gone for the worse.
The much touted Mass Transit System as promised by PTI leadership remains a pipedream and the mono rail plan a distant mirage. So what do we have for the snarling and chaotic traffic jams on Peshawar roads?
The messy Khyber Road happens to be the only lifeline for commuters, who routinely get stranded during peak hours. For PDA, expansion of roads is the only answer for all problems that confront this benighted city with a bloated bureaucracy and visionless administrators carrying on with the antiquated policies and unsustainable solutions for decades.
Every five years the traffic doubles with incremental growth in population, and recently, getting worse with millions of IDPs from adjoining districts and Fata pouring in. Naturally, it has impacted the already creaky infrastructure of the city. The chaotic roads are the first manifestation of governance gone awry and signs of imploding population.
The mantra of ‘beautification of Peshawar and restoration of its bygone glory’ by the successive governments in living memory is parroted with jarring frequency. What the PTI government is saying now was what the ANP government said five years ago and the MMA government 10 years ago. It’s a vicious circle of hollow promises, plans gone sour and hopes dashed. It’s certainly no music for the stressed out ears and nerves.
The present government under the spell of the ubiquitous PDA has now started digging the last vestiges of green belts along the Khyber Road in front of Islamia College on either side. These green belts were the last leftovers of the islands of tranquility in the otherwise, pollution ridden, concrete blocks that have come to symbolise the once idyllic city of flowers and gardens.
What does the word ‘beautification’ mean to the ‘shakers and movers’ the so-called policymakers and implementers sitting in cushioned rooms? Making of yet another concrete wasteland with further expansion of an already expanded treeless road?
The latest expansion shall not ease the traffic mess; rather it shall invite further traffic with more smoke belching and noise producing vehicles in a vicious cycle: more expansion leading to increase in vehicles and traffic mess and so on.
Better sense should have prevailed in the provincial planning and development departments, which cannot see beyond their myopic visions and would rather turn the entire city’s landscape into a wasteland of expanded roads at the expense of green belts and trees.
The innovative U-turns and better traffic management tools on the Khyber Road have much eased the traffic mess and the present expansion of the artery was avoidable and needs to be halted.
The provincial government should rather speed up plans for a MTS and mono rail system. Public transport systems are the only long-term and sustainable answers to the existing traffic mess. Short-term measures shall result only in short-term solutions. The next government shall again resort to the same mantra ‘beautification’ resulting in yet another unsustainable policy.
In the meantime, this cycle of destruction has led to the loss of so many precious and old trees that contributed in no small measure to the healthy environment the pollution-ridden Peshawar desperately cannot afford to lose.
Did Imran Khan talk about the Tsunami of planting a billion trees in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa? Let’s first save the endangered old trees before embarking on utopian policies. Where is the Naya Khyber Pakhtunkhwa?
Published in Dawn January 28th, 2015
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