PESHAWAR: Road closures and traffic diversions for the ongoing Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project have turned commuting across the provincial capital into a nightmare for the local residents.
As the work is progressing into the advanced stage, where contractors are grappling with the most challenging aspects of the project, several main roads have been either partially or fully closed to traffic.
The road blockades have made the daily commute to and from the city, cantonment, university, Hayatabad and Karkhano areas no less than a herculean task, which the people have to undertake daily. Thousands of commuters using city’s rickety transport are worst hit of this situation.
Also, the uncertainty surrounding the project’s early completion, especially when the scorching hot days are just around the corner, is worrying commuters.
Currently, work on the most of the BRT corridor in the Reach I running from Chamkani to Firdous has been completed except for a few areas where work has yet to begin due to the design issues. Except for some ‘trouble spots’ of Gulbahar, Hashtangri and Firdous Chowk, contractors have also reconstructed the most part of the GT Road easing traffic problems to some extent.
However, the challenging nature of the project’s elevated portion from Firdous Chowk to Amn Chowk, which incidentally runs along the strategic route connecting the city with the cantonment areas, is causing residents the most problems. It has also led to the closure of most arteries.
Road closures, traffic diversions stress out Peshawarites
The Sunehri Masjid Road, mostly used by the public transport, has been closed for more than two months with the traffic coming from Kohat Road and city areas diverted to the Saddar Road. However, earlier this week, Sher Shah Suri Road was closed to traffic near the cantonment railway station forcing heavy traffic between the city and cantonment areas into using several smaller roads.
The public transport vehicles bound for the city and cantonment areas are using the City Circular Road, which adds the additional stretch of over six kilometers to the commute. A portion of the Railway Road between Shoba Chowk and Mission Hospital has been closed for several weeks, while the Soekarno Square is also witnessing heavy construction activity and the Hospital Road, which connects this square with the GT Road via Malik Saad flyover is completely closed to traffic as earlier this week, workers began pulling down the flyover for the BRT’s elevated portion. These road closures have forced the traffic to go through the Khyber Bazaar and Qissa Khawni, which are struggling to cope with the traffic load due to the district administration’s failure to clear the roadside parking and encroachments, which cause traffic snarls to the misery of commuters.
On Reach III running from Amn Chowk to Hayatabad, work on the underpasses near the Gul Haji Plaza and Town police station besides construction on the elevated portion in Tehkal and Amn Chowk underpass portion are some of the major areas seeing struggling traffic.
Qaisar Ali, a resident of Hayatabad, said the relevant departments should have initially completed work on the roads for mixed traffic but they even failed to complete work on two drains on the University Road despite launching it several months before the execution of the bus project.
“Sadly, there’s no accountability for the contractor, who failed to complete work on the drain on time,” he said.
A traffic police official deployed on the Khyber Bazaar told Dawn that the long traffic jams coupled with the constant sparring with motorists unwilling to listen drove the cops crazy.
“We have to argue with each driver and at times have to scuffle with them just to push some sense into their heads,” he said, adding that deputing police personnel would not help until there’re proper arrangements.
When contacted, chief traffic warden Yasir Afridi insisted that the traffic police were doing their best to resolve the traffic-related problems of the city.
He, however, said motorists would suffer inconvenience on Reach-I due to work on the mixed traffic lanes.
Mr Afridi that everyone was asking the police to change traffic plan as they desired but that was not possible as the police had to facilitate the entire city’s population.
He said the police received phone calls from the people on a daily basis complaining they were stuck in traffic.
“Currently, people are facing a lot of traffic problems but the future is good for residents after the project is completed,” he said.
Published in Dawn, March 25th, 2018