KARACHI: Karachiites are yet again suffering from traffic jams with development work on four key road links ongoing simultaneously, and minimal alternate routes arranged to cater to more than 3.5 million vehicles passing through them every day, revealed traffic officials on Sunday.

Due to suspension of traffic on these roads, they said, the load had shifted to other arteries which had made it difficult to manage, especially at peak hours with only 3,200 traffic officials functioning across the metropolis.

“So the traffic gridlock is happening quite often these days,” said a senior police official.

“At one meeting it was conveyed to the authorities concerned that initiating development work on key roads at the same time would cause serious traffic problems but the concerns were ignored. It is feared that the situation will not change for at least a month or two,” said the official.

First it was Shershah Suri Road where the federal government in February 2016 launched the Green Line bus project. For almost a year, the traffic flow along the 20-km long dedicated track has been facing serious problems with traffic jams becoming a routine.

Starting from KESC Power House Chowrangi in Surjani Town, development work for the bus service is affecting traffic flow through Nagan Chowrangi, North Nazimabad, Nazimabad and Guru Mandir. After completion, the bus project will terminate at Merewether Tower and the dedicated track is around 20km, including an 11km elevated section.

Then in November 2016, the government launched the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Tariq Road from Shaheed-i-Millat Road to Shahrah-i-Qaideen which further aggravated traffic woes from district central to east. A few weeks later reconstruction of the University Road was launched after the Sindh chief minister approved Rs955 million to build the key road link from Hasan Square to NIPA, and from NED University to Safoora Chowk.

“Now the traffic pressure of these two roads — Tariq Road and University Road — has shifted to Shahra-e-Faisal,” said SP Erum Awan of Karachi traffic.

“At peak hours, on an average more than 12,000 vehicles ply Shahra-e-Faisal and due to that shift the pressure has increased multiple times. We hardly have 200 men to control traffic in the east zone so one can imagine the reasons behind gridlocks and traffic jams these days.”

The recent demolition work of Baloch Colony flyover for remodelling has also been disrupting the pace of traffic flow on Shahra-e-Faisal, she said. For that, she added, the Karachi traffic had recently requested the authorities to avoid working on the project during the day.

A senior official of the Karachi traffic police said that the alternate routes had already been defined by the law-enforcement agencies but the growing number of vehicles and limited space for roads were the major reasons behind frequent traffic jams, further exacerbated by development project on key roadlinks.

“Currently there are more than 3.6 million registered vehicles on Karachi roads,” he said. “If we break down the numbers, there are some 1.25 million cars and 450,000 commercial vehicles. The rest, which makes up more than 50 per cent of the total registered vehicles, are motorbikes. It’s always a tough job to cater to such a number of vehicles on the available roads.”

Published in Dawn, January 2nd, 2017

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