RAWALPINDI: The Punjab government has asked the divisional administration to create a plan to move large markets, transport terminals and industrial units out of Rawalpindi city in order to reduce traffic congestion and pollution.
The administration is planning to allocate space along the site proposed for the Ring Road from Channi Sher Alam in Rawat to Thalian on the motorway.
Commissioner Saqib Zafar and Rawalpindi Development Authority Director General Nadeem Ahmed Abro visited the site on Sunday so the plan could be presented to the steering committee tomorrow (Tuesday).
Mr Zafar told Dawn that a consultant has begun preparing the PC-I. The government wants to move the city’s main markets, including those selling grains, fruit and vegetables, along the Ring Road.
The administration is planning to create a special traffic police force for the Ring Road on the pattern of the motorway police, he added. He said a new city will be developed along the road, giving them the opportunity to develop the city according to today’s requirements.
Space to be allocated to industrial units, educational institutions along Ring Road
Rawalpindi does not have a separate fruit and vegetable market, he said, and the I-11 market in Islamabad is used for fruit and vegetable auctions. Once the new markets are set up, all these products will be moved there.
“Rawalpindi is not an agricultural city and there are no goodsproduced by farms at the local level. Some people grow grains for their own use. There is no agriculture tax or aabiana in the district because there is no canal in the area. All the fruits, vegetables and grains come from outside the district,” Mr Zafar said.
Sugar comes from Bhalwal, Rahimyar Khan and other cities, and wheat and rice also come from other districts in Punjab. Moving markets out of the city will reduce transportation costs and allow for goods to be sold at lower prices, he said.
Rawalpindi also serves as the main market to supply food and other goods to the north, including areas such as Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. After the Ring Road is constructed, Mr Zafar said, transporters will not need to enter the city and will reach their destinations without facing traffic problems or causing any for residents.
All transport terminals will be moved to the starting and ending points of the Ring Road on the G.T. Road and the motorway.
“Bus terminals will be developed under a new system and a new transport system will be launched to connect the city areas to the Ring Road. There is an option to start a metro train service, but that will be started with the provincial government’s approval,” he said.
Mr Zafar added that the consultant is also allocating space for educational institutions where colleges and universities will be moved.
“Main campuses will be moved to new locations so they impart education in a better environment,” he said.
The health sector will also be given space so large hospitals, pharmacies and laboratories can open outlets.
“The Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) requested the government to allocate the building of the Benazir Bhutto International Airport for an exhibition centre after moving the airport to the new building in Fatehjang but it turned down the request for security reasons,” he said.
Instead, traders will be provided a site for such a centre along the Ring Road to hold industrial and commercial exhibitions.
Published in Dawn, November 18th, 2019