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LAHORE: Broken traffic signage and low-height underpasses on canal road have become a headache for those who prefer to use this main signal-free artery to reach places of their choice in the provincial capital.

The eight-lane Canal Road -- the biggest signal-free corridor that starts from Thokar Niaz Beg -- connects south of the city with central and northern parts of the metropolis including the residential areas situated at link Canal Road, Johar Town, Wapda Town, Jinnah Hospital, Multan Road, Wahdat Road, Muslim Town, Garden Town, Gulberg, Ferozepur Road, Shadman, Shah Jamal, Jail Road, The Mall, Dharampura, Mughalpura, Lal Pul, Shalamar, Tajpura, Harbanspura, Batapur and Wagah border.

The artery consists of 11 underpasses starting from Doctors Hospital to Harbanspura via Jinnah Hospital, New Campus, Muslim Town, canal, FC College, Jail Road, The Mall, Dharampura and Mughalpura.

Broken traffic signage on Canal Road baffles motorists

As the government [previously] had constructed some low-height underpasses (11-foot) at Doctors Hospital, Campus, Muslim Town, Canal Road, Jail Road and Mall Road, it later decided to construct full-depth (16-foot) underpasses at Jinnah, Dharampura, Mughalpura and Harbanspura after it off and on witnessed vehicles stuck in the low-height underpasses.

However, it couldn’t be able to either convert the low height into full-depth (height) underpasses or stop heavy vehicles (trucks, trailers etc) entering the [low-height] underpasses due to dilapidated signage guiding the motorists to use the road.

“You can see most of signage displaying information about the height and name of underpasses, indication to turn left or right, name of places etc., is in a dilapidated condition. So, in this situation, how can you stop heavy vehicles from passing through the underpasses,” comments Aamir Hayat, a motorist.

“While travelling, I, off and on, stuck in traffic caused by the trucks trapped in the underpasses. Since Canal Road is a signal-free corridor, the government must pay immediate attention to resolve the issue,” he demanded.

Before 2012, the entire underpasses on canal road had no identity as the people used to recognise them with location (for instance Jail Road, Muslim Town underpass). Later, then district coordination officer Noorul Ameen Mengal carried out an exhaustive activity to name all underpasses after prominent personalities. Since he had initiated the activity by involving the civil society on the platform of Dilkash Lahore Project, the provincial government finally accorded approval to the recommendations of the city district administration in this regard. Resultantly all underpasses were named after the legends by displaying signage inscribed with the names.

But, after a couple of years, neither the city administration nor the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) paid attention to maintenance of the signage.

“When you will have no signage, you will get baffled. One can visit Canal Road and see motorists stuck in underpasses and they seem unable to find way to reach their destinations due to broken signage,” Muhammad Irfan, a resident of Lahore, told this reporter.

“It is a major issue for the residents of Lahore in general and the non-residents (outsiders) in particular,” he added.

Talking to Dawn, Traffic Engineering and Transport Planning Agency (Tepa) Chief Engineer Mr Mazhar Hussain Khan admitted the fact, stating that the work on replacing the dilapidated signage with new one would begin soon. “It is a very important issue. We have already got approved a scheme in this regard. Tenders have also been invited and after shortlisting and selection of the contractor, we will begin the work,” he added.

He said another scheme related to making the low-height underpasses as full depth ones had also been approved. “But for this we have no funds at present. As soon as we get funds, we will also start work,” he maintained.

When contacted, Lahore Deputy Commissioner retired Capt Anwarul Haq said: “Some days ago, a dumper truck had stuck into a low-height underpass causing great inconvenience to motorists. The city admin has decided to take up the issue with Tepa or LDA in writing after Eid.”

Published in Dawn, August 25th, 2018