PESHAWAR: As civil works on the Peshawar Bus Rapid Transit project is gathering pace, commuters complain about sluggish traffic and dug-up roads.
Currently, work is in full swing on Part I and II of the multibillion rupees project’s Reach-II, while the work on Reach-II is likely to pick up pace over the coming weeks.
In Part I of the Reach-I, which starts in Chamkani and ends at Firdous Chowk stretch of the GT Road, has mostly been dug up for the construction of BRT track and underpasses with construction crews working there round the clock.
On the other hand, work on the Part-II starting at Amn Chowk and ending in Hayatabad is also in full swing.
Traffic police insist people not using alternative routes
Also, work on Reach-II running from Firdous to Amn Chowk and through the city’s densely populated areas is likely to gain momentum in few days.
Almost the entire stretch involves an elevated portion and at some locations, construction crews can be seen drill in the dead of the night and put up pillars for the raised BRT passage.
Trader Taimur Khan, who commutes between the Haji Camp and cantonment area on a daily basis, told Dawn that the duration of his daily journey had increased from usual 20 minutes to close to an hour.
He said the BRT project was of immense importance for the city future but traffic woes associated with the project, too, were of real nature and could have been minimised with prior planning.
The commuter said currently, the stretch between the Sikandar Khan Khalil Flyover and Firdous Chowk witnessed the massive traffic congestion.
A tariff warden deployed near Haji Camp told Dawn that the traffic woes could have been minimised by the widening of the road before the launch of work on the project.
He said the project managers had begun widening the road and that it was likely to take time to ease traffic congestion on the main artery.
“We are mostly trying to keep the GT Road clear of traffic congestion by diverting heavy vehicles to the Ring Road and public transport to the service roads,” he said.
An official of the Peshawar Development Authority, which is the project’s executing agency, said a traffic plan was adopted in consultation with the relevant departments.
He however said under the plan, it was the traffic police’s responsibly to manage traffic flow.
“Such mega projects entail some amount of public inconvenience,” he said.
SSP (traffic) Yasir Afridi said prior to the project’s execution, the traffic police had run a comprehensive public awareness campaign about the alternative routes.
“We have issued pamphlets, installed banners, run advertisement in newspaper and were still running campaign through mobile phones,” he said.
The SSP said currently, around 800 traffic wardens were performing duty in three shifts along the entire BRT route.
“These cops are working in three shifts and the last one ends at 12am,” he said.
Mr Afridi said the traffic police had asked for the widening of the GT Road before the start of work on the project and had that happened, the people would have not faced trouble.
He said work on road widening had begun lately.
The SSP said the main problem for the traffic police was that most commuters didn’t use alternate routes and converging on GT Road, which was leading to traffic congestion.
“Traffic on GT Road was slow but it was not clogged,” he said.
Transport secretary Kamran Rehman Khan said the department was working on videos to educate the people on the alternative traffic routes and was trying to ensure smooth flow of traffic.
“We have also asked the executing agency to start work on the road widening to overcome traffic jams,” he said.
The secretary however admitted that the road’s widening should have been done earlier.
Published in Dawn, November 24th, 2017