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Work underway on Bab-i-Peshawar Flyover. — File photo
Work underway on Bab-i-Peshawar Flyover. — File photo

PESHAWAR: For 15 years or so, the residents of Peshawar have been using some bumpy dirt tracks and thus, facing traffic jams almost on a daily basis due to the construction of a flyover or underpass on the main artery connecting the parts of the city.

Every day, motorists have to take detours and drive on bumpy diversions to and from workplace and home due to some work on one main road linking GT Road, Khyber Road, University Road and Jamrud Road ending in Karkhano market.

Instead of fulfilling the promise of the Mass Transit Service, a faulty idea which fizzled out due to land issues between the provincial and federal governments, the ruling PTI, following in the footsteps of its predecessors, is also constructing Bab-i-Peshawar at Phase-III Chowk.

“Everyday commuters passing through the diversion are reminded of development and ultimately, they think less of what are other basic necessities that should have been provided by the government,” Saeed Khan, a resident of Hayatabad, said as he drove by the Bab-i-Peshawar flyover, which is under construction.

Different political parties have ruled Khyber Pakhtunkhwa over the last 15 years but their strategy to use development projects on this one road to ‘hypnotise’ voters remained the same. Other roads, which could have facilitated a large number of people, remain either incomplete or neglected.

Whether it was the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal, the alliance of the religio-political parties, the Awami National Party or the current PTI government, none could complete the circle of the Ring road connecting different parts of the provincial capital. The governments focused on the one road connecting posh areas of the city and used by VIPs and bureaucrats.

All the focus has been on developing concrete structures on the main road passing through the provincial capital.

Interestingly, the ground-breaking ceremony of the Mufti Mehmood Flyover took place twice. Once the MMA government’s chief executive, Akram Khan Durrani ( 2002-2007), and later Chief Minister of the ANP government Ameer Haider Khan Hoti (2008-2013) performed the ‘publicity ritual’. The flyover was finally inaugurated in April 2015.

While the MMA and ANP government constructed the two flyovers, Arbab Sikandar Flyover and Mufti Mehmood Flyover, the PTI government will soon inaugurate Bab-i-Peshawar flyover. Bab-i-Peshawar flyover at Phase-111 Chowk has cost Rs1.772 billion but the city’s other roads has been neglected for years.

Most of the city’s arteries are in dilapidated condition. The Pajjagi Road leading to the ANP’s provincial offices, Bacha Khan Markaz, is one such example.

The Kohat Road connecting Peshawar with the province’s southern districts and tribal areas also remains neglected despite heavy traffic flow on it. The people are often stuck in traffic jams on the road for hours.

Other roads in and around provincial capital remain in dilapidated condition. If one goes hardly half kilometers off the main roads like GT Road, University Road or Jamrud Road, the paths and small roads in the localities are in bad condition crying out loud for repair and extension.

The ANP government had allocated Rs8 billion for communication projects, including Arbab Sikandar Flyover, Mufti Mehmood Flyover, Phase-3 Hayatabad flyover and underpasses, and several intersections on the same main artery. The PTI government has allocated Rs20 billion for restoration of Peshawar’s past glory and reconstruction of the missing link of the Peshawar ring road along with five flyovers.

However, none of them provided a better transport service to the city.

Work on the Ring Road began more than two decades ago but it is still incomplete. The ‘vicious circle of development’ on one artery continues despite the change of the governments and spending of billions of rupees.

Ironically, one part of Ring Road frequented by containers taking supplies for Nato forces in Afghanistan was expanded and repaired with the assistance of the US government, while work on a ring road around the city has yet to be completed.

Instead of completing this missing link of Ring Road between Charsadda Road and Hayatabad, the governments have been spending billions of rupees on flyovers on the road passing through thickly populated areas. The dust and disruptions due to these development projects have turned Peshawar into a perpetual dusty town.

Published in Dawn, January 8th, 2016