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Snow-covered vehcles parked on a road in Murree. — Dawn
Snow-covered vehcles parked on a road in Murree. — Dawn

RAWALPINDI/MURREE: The twin cities received heavy rain and Murree had received about six inches of snow till Monday night.

The rain started early morning and was still going on till the filing of this report. It brought a chill to the twin cities and led to traffic congestion in many areas.

“The rain will continue on Tuesday but the weather will clear by Wednesday,” a met official told Dawn.

The met office recorded 27mm of rain at Zero Point, 39mm in Saidpur, 44mm in Golra, 37mm at the new Islamabad International Airport (IIA), 31mm in Bokra, 29mm in Shamsabad and 28mm in Chaklala, Rawalpindi.

Several flights were cancelled due to the rain at IIA. Airport authorities said nine flights were cancelled including those for Gilgit, Skardu, Mashad, Bahawalpur, Karachi and Rahimyar Khan.

The rain left puddles on roads and sidewalks across the twin cities, creating problems for motorists and pedestrians. Rainwater also choked some drains and led to mud and rubbish washing up in some streets.

Potholes were created by the rain in roads in the cantonment areas including on Haider Road near the General Post Office, Kashmir Road in front of Kamran Market and Babu Mohallah, a patch of road leading towards Gowalmandi and on Adamjee Road near the old general transport service bus terminal.

The Rawalpindi Cantonment Board has not repaired roads in the last five years even though it has the funds.

Islamabad Electric Supply Company suspended power supply in many city and cantonment areas soon after the rain started and the same was the case with the gas supply.

Most residents chose to stay indoors on Monday instead of battling the traffic congestion and flooded streets and roads. There were little business activities in all the main markets, city centres and bazaars.

Traffic came to a grinding halt for several hours in many areas including Raja Bazaar, Jamia Masjid Road, Murree Road, Rawal Road, Tipu Road, Kashmiri Bazaar and others.

Meanwhile, Murree had received six inches of snow till the filing of this report and the galyat had received about a foot and a half of snow.

The met office has predicted more snow the coming two days.

Many tourists poured into Murree for the snow fall and according to the traffic police’s spokesperson Muzamal Abbasi, some 30,000 cars entered the hill station.

There were long queues of traffic due and no parking was available in Murree due to the snow, which had only been cleared from the middle of the roads and not the sides.

The traffic police had deployed 210 wardens on various roads to facilitate tourists, Mr Abbasi said.

Sub-Divisional Officer Highway Asif Khattak said 16 snowploughs were used to clear the snow and that his department does not have 75pc of its required staff. He said 10 vehicles are used to sprinkle salt on the snow and slippery roads.

Traffic police officials were asking tourists to not stop their cars only to take pictures so that the traffic would not stop on the main roads, to run their cars on petrol and not CNG and to keep water and dry fruit in their vehicles in case of emergencies during traffic jams.

Tourists were advised not to visit during the night and not to make unnecessary visits to the hilly areas in order to avoid accidents.

There are about 1,100 hotels in Murree which accommodate thousands of tourists but there is not enough parking for even 10pc of these tourists. Most of these hotels are illegally constructed.

Published in Dawn, January 22nd, 2019