MURREE: More than 60,000 vehicles entered Murree since Eidul Fitr on Wednesday, according to traffic police.

Long queues of vehicles were seen on various roads of the town. Tourists from various parts of the country thronged Murree to enjoy Eid holidays. But due to the scarcity of parking, thousands of vehicles remained stuck on roads for hours.

The traffic police stopped all kinds of traffic on Rawalpindi-Murree-Kashmir Highway (RMK) at Satra Mile toll plaza and diverted them to Murree Expressway to reduce the pressure on the RMK.

There are dozens of hotels with more than eight storyes and hundreds of rooms but they have not reserved parking spaces for their customers who are compelled to park their vehicles on roads causing traffic jams.

Parking is allowed on one side of some roads but these spaces are occupied by some hotel agents. They then illegally charge parking fee from tourists for allowing them to park their vehicles there. Previous governments had promised to solve the chronic parking issue in Murree but failed to take steps.

Former chief minister Shahbaz Sharif had initiated work on an 11-storey parking plaza at Jhika Gali and gigging had started. But after spending more than Rs1.5 billion and keeping the road closed for two years, the land was declared unfit for multi-storey building as landsliding started there.

Similarly, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had announced during the election campaign 2013 that a parking lot would be developed at Bostal Mor to reduce traffic flow in the town. The tourists would reach Murree from Bostal by a proposed chairlift, but that project too could not be materialised.

Meanwhile, Punjab Minister for Tourism Raja Yasir Sarfraz said tourism would be promoted in the hilly areas on the pattern of Switzerland to earn revenue and jobs for the locals.

Speaking at the inaugural ceremony of Patriata chairlift project, he said the government was not in favour of giving subsidies but locals would be given preference in jobs in the upcoming tourism development projects. He said other places were being examined in the area to develop tourist spots like Kotli Sattiyan to reduce the tourist pressure on Murree.

Published in Dawn, June 8th, 2019