400 traffic wardens down with eye, lung problems due to BRT project

Published December 21, 2018
Traffic wardens are affected by dust storms caused by the heavy construction activity over the past year. — File photo
Traffic wardens are affected by dust storms caused by the heavy construction activity over the past year. — File photo

PESHAWAR: The Peshawar Development Authority has agreed to bear the costs of the treatment of around 400 traffic wardens suffering from pulmonary and eye problems caused by the ongoing work on the Peshawar Bus Rapid Transit project.

Sources told Dawn that the PDA, which was the executing agency of the BRT, the PTI-led government’s flagship project, had accepted a request of the city traffic police for pulmonary and hepatitis treatment of its around 400 personnel deployed on the BRT route.

Take a look: How bad planning is ruining Peshawar

The traffic wardens affected by dust storms caused by the heavy construction activity over the last one year will be treated at the Combined Military Hospital.

PDA agrees to bear treatment costs

Sources told Dawn that earlier this month, Peshawar chief traffic officer Kashif Zulfiqar wrote a letter to the PDA director general asking for the medical treatment to traffic wardens.

The letter, a copy of which is available with Dawn, read that the traffic wardens of that unit were working day and night in coherence for the successful execution of the BRT project.

It said the city traffic police Peshawar had ensured smooth traffic flow on roads during the BRT construction despite facing hard conditions.

The letter said the enthusiasm of the traffic wardens was marred by dust and pollution, caused by aforesaid project, which was extremely injurious and the routine drudgery was debilitating their health.

“This unit lacks the economic resources to provide medical expenses to such a vast proportion of our strength,” it said, adding that the same pollution is causing severe pulmonary, influenza and eye-related problems among cops.

The letter said the treatment of such traffic wardens should be borne by the civic agency or the traffic police should be facilitated by a sufficient medical fund for the purpose.

The project’s environmental, health and safety aspects are continually monitored at five levels including the executing agency, donor Asian Development Bank, third party environmental monitoring consultant, project management and construction supervision consultants (PMCSC) and contractor.

However, compliance with the project’s environmental safeguards has taken flak from the citizens in contrast to the executing agency’s biannual reports submitted to the donor ADB, which put the particulate matter, noise and other kind of pollution well below the permissible limits.

The most recent report covering the period from January to June 2008 noted that the issue of excessive dust emissions remained prevalent until April 2018.

“Actions such as; optimization of water sprinkling, manual and mechanical sweeping of dust etc. have been utilized to control the issue. These actions have proved to be fruitful and this issue has generally been controlled. The pavement of the corridor and asphalting of the mixed traffic lanes also scaled down the dust emissions,” it said.

Regarding unauthorised disposal of debris / excavated material, the report said since the beginning of the project until the middle of this reporting period, the unauthorised disposal of debris and excavated material remained a major challenge for the project.

It said unavailability of alternative routes and congestion on the existing routes made it very difficult for the dumper trucks to transport the excavated material to the dumping sites on frequent basis.

The report said due to those limitations, the unauthorised disposal of excavated material at the roadsides and near the excavated areas had been a frequent observation.

Sources told Dawn that the Environmental Protection Agency had also pointed out its serious reservations about the project in several reports but little attention was paid to them.

They said the contractor also fired its environmental consultant from Reach-I of the project.

When contacted, PDA director general Israrul Haq confirmed that the authority had received a letter from the traffic police on the matter.

He, however, expressed ignorance about the number of cops to be treated.

The DG said the traffic police had stood shoulder to shoulder with other agencies during the project’s execution and would facilitate them at any health facility of the city through a special counter.

Published in Dawn, December 21st, 2018

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