LAHORE: Road rage, long queues as far as the eye could see and snail’s pace – where traffic was fortunately moving – defined some of the city roads for the second consecutive day on Tuesday.
This was particularly correct for Gulberg where all exit and entry points of Main Boulevard were closed for clearing the route for the playing teams and spectators.
“No one is opposing the return of cricket, but this curfew-like situation in one of the major areas is not comprehensible,” said Muhammad Sarfaraz of Gulberg. “Security ring around the stadium and traffic management during the commute of the teams make sense. But why keep a 5km radius in a curfew-like situation and make people suffer on all roads? What message would this convey to the world and cricket lovers? Cricket and traffic management are two different areas mixed by the Punjab government on Tuesday and that is what we are complaining about. Otherwise, everyone in the country and city welcomes the game.”
“The entire planning was based on officials’ fear, which translated into public misery,” lamented Zaheer Ahmad Khan of Samanabad.
He said all possible protective measures — pushing parking areas away from the centre of activity, keeping CNG- and LPG-fitted vehicles out of the area and shuttling ticket holders to the venue from far off – were taken and properly ensured on the day.
“What was the fear then? The sense is understandable, but sending civic life into an upheaval is lamentable to say the least. Five-minute travel took 90 minutes, if not more, on Tuesday because roads were in a complete mess. This mismanagement is inexcusable. Cricket to Pakistanis is what football is to Brazilians. But if the Brazilians have to suffer what Lahorites did on Tuesday because of cricket, I really have no idea how much love for the game will be left behind,” he asserted.
“Traffic on a normal day when there is no event is nerve-wracking because of the number and variety of vehicles plying on these roads,” explained Muhammad Shabbir, a retired traffic police officer.
Creating pressure by blocking roads that catered to hundreds of thousands of vehicles was a risky proposition, which was bound to get chaotic, and it did, he concluded.
Published in Dawn, September 13th, 2017