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LAHORE: Growing traffic issues in the provincial capital have forced the government to seek help from Turkish urban planning experts.

The experts held first orientation meeting with top officials headed by the additional chief secretary (ACS) here at the Commissioner’s office and second with the Metropolitan Corporation’s officials led by the Lahore Mayor at Town Hall on Thursday.

The experts/officials from various Turkish departments would soon submit a detailed report and recommendations to the government to devise a viable strategy on traffic management and reforms that would be introduced in Lahore.

The experts were given briefings separately by the Traffic Engineering and Transport Planning Agency (TEPA) and the Lahore Parking Company during the orientation meeting.

In his presentation, Tepa’s Chief Engineer Mr Saifur Rehman said there were several problems causing traffic congestion and blockades in the city. These, he said, included illegal and uncontrolled parking, lack of facilities for pedestrians, insufficient traffic management, poor junction design and lack of traffic control, encroachment of road space and public right of way, mixed traffic volume, lack of public transport, traffic rules enforcement and network and maintenance of roads, road safety issues, violation of traffic rules etc.

When asked by the experts that whether any work/study on traffic management, including dedicated lanes or passages for motorcyclists, had been done, LDA Director General Mr Zahid Zaman replied: “Before this no work has been done on the issue of traffic management.” However, he said, the LDA was constructing separate passages measuring six-feet in the canal road widening project on various sections.

The Lahore Traffic Police Chief DIG Syed Ahmad Mubin said since there was a lack of public transport, people were forced to travel by auto and motorcycle rickshaws, wagons etc causing traffic congestion on roads. Mobility of a huge number of people on motorcycles was another problem. He said though there was a system to check fitness of the public transport, no provision in the law was available to check fitness of private vehicles (cars etc).

Lahore Transport Company’s Chief Executive Officer Khawaja Haider Latif informed the experts that growing number of motorcycle rickshaws was the main cause behind traffic problems. “About two years before we, through a campaign, had enrolled as many as 34,000 such rickshaws. And to date, the number of this transport may have been doubled,” he said and added: “This is unregistered and illegal transport and it must be disallowed,”

Narrating challenges faced by the Lahore Parking Company, the firm’s CEO Mr Usman Qayyum said: “Our challenges include lack of parking facilities, unplanned commercialization without considering impact on parking demand, illegal parking, lack of enforcement, encroachment, flat parking charges etc,”

Lahore Commissioner Abdullah Sumbal while speaking on the occasion requested the Turkish experts to help the city departments in devising an effective plan to handle the situation.

Published in Dawn, February 10th, 2017