PESHAWAR: Almost two years down the lane and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project -- promised to be completed in six months -- is still underway and getting on the nerves of the people of Peshawar.
With their businesses down for the last two years, this rapid bus transit project has spread intolerance, anxiety, frustration and stress to many living in Peshawar rapidly.
The project initiated by the previous provincial government of PTI few months before going into elections is still underway and seriously affecting the mental health of the people of Peshawar.
Chief Minister Mahmood Khan recently at an interactive session with students assured them that the project would be completed by the end of the year and it would be a good facility for the people of Peshawar.
Psychiatrist says mental stress and frustration can lead to intolerance in society
All this while the work on project continues so does the agony of the everyday commuters, who have to deal with all kinds of traffic coming from all directions violating all traffic rules and at most times remains standstill due to an unexpected pulling down of a faulty structure, digging or construction work due to change in design of the ongoing project.
“You have not seen the bundle of pills that I carry around. I have become mentally sick due to this BRT project,” said Mohammad Saleem, who runs cloth business in a shop on a roadside almost closed owing to the scheme.
The residents of Peshawar have seen people blown up in bombings as the city has witnessed all kinds of acts of terrorism for almost a decade but peace of mind still seems to evade Peshawar’s people as ongoing work on BRT project keeps them constantly at unease. Not only roads on both sides have shrunk due to construction of BRT fenced lane, the tolerance level has also shrunk and road rage is quite common in Peshawar now.
“The customers can’t park and have to take a U-turn quite far away and no customer means no business and this is driving me mentally sick,” said Mr Saleem, who simply prayed for completion of the project so he is rid of this trouble.
Mohammad Arif, another resident of Peshawar, said that people had stopped talking about other issues and mostly discussed BRT project as their main issue.
“Since the BRT project has started, I have been feeling mental pressure. At times frustrated as no one knows when it will be completed,” he added.
Dr Mian Ifthikhar Hussain, a known psychiatrist, said that mental stress, anxiety and frustration caused to commuters due to BRT might lead to physical ailments like high blood pressure, heart problems and ulcers. He said that mental stress, anxiety and frustration could lead to intolerance in the society.
“Already one can see frustration and intolerance on road when people don’t reach a certain destination or a meeting due to traffic jams and if the stress is long and persistent then its effects are long lasting,” said Dr Mian Iftikhar.
He said that governments should always care for the people’s wellbeing when planning such projects. The government needed to care for public safety and care as those projects were meant to facilitate not irritate the public, he added.
The multi billion rupees development project started in October 2017 by the PTI previous government had been assessed by the chief minister inspection team and termed a faulty project by Asian Development Bank that loaned major share of the fund for the scheme. The slow pace of work and continuous change in its design have been irking people since the BRT touches and passes through main commercial areas and markets of the provincial capital.
Published in Dawn, October 24th, 2019