ISLAMABAD: One of the I-9 service roads was closed on Thursday for the placement of am A-5 Fenton Ground Attack, and became the scene of a severe traffic jam as residents of the capital stopped their cars to get a glimpse of the fighter aircraft.
The aircraft was brought on a trailer and unloaded with a crane, inviting the attention of those passing through 9th Avenue and nearby roads. The resulting traffic jam became almost impossible for traffic police to control and even triggered rumours in the city of a crashed plane.
Passerby Waqar Ahmed told Dawn that at first glance he thought an aircraft had crashed and rushed to the site to see if he could help.
“After I reached there I realised it was a fighter aircraft. I thought the pilot must have jumped using a parachute, so I asked a police official if the pilot was safe. The official told me this was an obsolete aircraft that would be used for the beautification of the city,” he said.
Residents stopped their cars on the road to catch a glimpse of A-5 Fenton Ground Attack being placed by metro bus route
Mohammad Furqan was picked his children up from school when he got stuck in traffic. Because of the congestion, he said, it took him half an hour to get from I-10 to I-8 – a journey that usually takes 10 minutes.
“I reached school a bit late, but when I told [my children] why I was late they began insisting I take them there. So rather than taking an alternate route, I once against went on the bridge that connects I-8 and I-9, over 9th Avenue. It took a lot of time again, but my children were so excited to see the aircraft that I didn’t mind,” he told Dawn.
A large number of people were turning up at the site until night-time, and Pakistan Air Force officials were deputed there for security reasons.
A traffic police official who was not authorised to speak on the record said the traffic police had made all the arrangements to place the airport without any accidents once the civic authorities had informed them it was being placed.
“We had to close one side of the road, because of which people suffered, but we also did our best to reduce the difficulties of people,” he said.
Islamabad Mayor Sheikh Anser Aziz told Dawn that he approved the placement of a fighter aircraft in the capital around six months ago, and directed further questions to the director environment.
Director Environment Irfan Niazi said a steel mill has arranged the aircraft, which will be placed on a greenbelt beside the metro bus route, as part of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities.
“The steel mill had applied that it wanted to fix an aircraft under CSR, and it will not only fix the aircraft but will also be responsible for the maintenance and beautification of the nearby area for the next five years. However, the company will be allowed to place a 4ft x 5t board as its advertisement,” he added.
He said that although the aircraft has been placed, it will take more than a month to complete the placement and the beautification of the area.
He said: “It will not only increase the beauty of the city, but will also become a place where newcomers will visit and will make a good impression of the capital.”
In response to a question, he said other companies should also come forward and play a role under CSR.
Published in Dawn, November 9th, 2018