KARACHI: The return of Test cricket to the metropolis has been causing serious difficulties to the people, especially those living in adjoining areas of the National Stadium Karachi (NSK) as the security plan issued by authorities has suggested almost a lockdown-like situation in one of the busiest areas of the city, it emerged on Friday.
The traffic plan for the first Test match between South Africa and Pakistan to be played at the NSK from January 26-30 would lead to strict security and traffic arrangements.
A statement issued by the Karachi traffic police said all roads leading to the NSK would be closed from 9am till 6pm and an alternative route would be provided.
“Road users are requested to use alternative routes to avoid any inconvenience,” it said.
“All kinds of traffic coming from Nursery will not be permitted to move towards the Habib Ibrahim Rehmatullah Road towards National Stadium (Sir Shah Suleman Road). These vehicles will be diverted towards Drigh Road Sharea Faisal, left turn Rashid Minhas Road, Millennium Mall to NIPA.”
On the other hand, it said that the traffic coming from Rashid Minhas Road will also not be permitted to proceed towards the NSK. These vehicles, it said, will be diverted towards NIPA, Askari-IV (Millennium Mall), Drigh Road to Sharea Faisal or Millennium, NIPA to Safoora Chowrangi or NIPA to Gulshan Chowrangi to Sohrab Goth.
Civil society request SHC chief justice to take suo motu notice of the situation
“Route from Liaquatabad via Hassan Square flyover will also be closed for all kinds of cars and no one will be allowed to proceed towards the Stadium Road,” said the statement. “Traffic will be diverted from flyover towards University Road to reach their destination. The traffic from University Road towards Stadium Road from New Town Chowrangi turning will also be diverted.”
It said that the traffic will be diverted towards Jail Chowrangi, Shaheed-i-Millat Road or straight to Peoples Secretariat Chowrangi. Public coming to Aga Khan Hospital and Liaquat National Hospital will be allowed from New Town police station side.
Civil society slams road closures
Civil society members, human rights and labour leaders have condemned the traffic mismanagement in Karachi and cordoning off the residential areas around NSK on the pretext of security for a few cricketers playing or practicing at the stadium.
In a joint statement issued here on Friday, Karamat Ali of Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research, Habibuddin Junaidi of Peoples Labour Bureau, Nasir Mansoor of National Trade Union Federation (NTUF), Farhat Perveen of NOW Communities, Liaquat Sahi of the Democratic Workers Union of State Bank of Pakistan, Nazim F. Haji, Majyd Aziz and others demanded that the security be restricted to inside the stadium premises only.
They pointed out that whenever a match or net practice of national cricket team was held at the NSK, residents of KDA Scheme, Gulshan-i-Iqbal, Dalmia Road and Gulistan-i-Jauhar suffered heavily due to traffic jams on main roads and logistic nightmares.
The periphery around the NSK is closed down with containers and movement of people is restricted. The residents thus become prisoners, they added.
Two main hospitals — Aga Khan and Liaquat National — are also located in the affected areas and a large number of patients could not reach hospitals, they said.
They said this heightened security on Friday had caused heavy rush on the University Road, which was choked and full of vehicles because the roads connected to it were sealed off in the name of security.
As the spectators would not be allowed inside the stadium anyway, then why was there so much security around the National Stadium, they asked.
They urged the chief justice of the Sindh High Court to take suo motu notice of this uncalled for security arrangement for the net practice of players and order removal of the containers from all lanes and streets.
“The citizens of Karachi also demand that if this type of security was there for a few players then whereas the norm for cricket matches? We don’t want any matches in Karachi if it is held at the cost of mental agony of residents. Hold matches and play in Rawalpindi, Multan or Lahore, or better still, play in Dubai, Sharjah or Timbuktu,” the statement concluded.
Published in Dawn, January 23rd, 2021