RAWALPINDI: A few days after traffic engineers of the Rawalpindi Development Authority and the City Traffic Police made fish belly u-turns at Liaquat Bagh and St Mary’s School by closing Marrir Chowk to make Murree Road signal free, the police have reopened the chowk as the traffic mess could not be managed.

The traffic police made the fish belly u-turns on a trial basis on Murree Road early this month.

Two fish belly u-turns were made, one near Leh Bridge on Murree Road and the other near Marrir Chowk Saddar side.

In addition, the Marrir Chowk crossing was closed as motorists coming from Kutchery Chowk had to take a left turn towards Saddar to reach the fish belly u-turn to move towards Liaquat Bagh.

Chowk was closed to make Murree Road signal free

But this experiment proved unproductive as motorists remained stuck in the traffic mess for more than 30 minutes to cross Marrir Chowk. It caused immense stress to office-goers, commuters and even motorcyclists remained stuck there.

Realising the public inconvenience, Chief Traffic Officer Mazhar Iqbal directed to remove the blocks from Marrir Chowk and to regulate traffic in the previous manner instead of using the fish belly u-turn.

So the Marrir Chowk crossing was reopened on Monday morning, however, the Liaquat Bagh crossing remained closed as it is apparently giving better results.

When a senior traffic warden deployed at Liaquat Bagh was asked about the traffic situation after closing the Liaquat Bagh crossing, he said though the experiment at Marrir Chowk was not good Liaquat Bagh has been giving a good result, as traffic from Committee Chowk and from Saddar towards Committee Chowk is plying signal-free.

Requesting anonymity, he said there were some better ways to improve the existing experimental plan because the traffic coming from Committee Chowk is slowed down when it reaches the fish belly u-turn in front of St Mary’s School due to the narrow road.

“The traffic engineers should have acquired some space from footpaths to widen the road at the u-turn,” he added.

Another traffic warden said major problems for the traffic police were lack of parking plazas or spaces and encroachments which were beyond the control of the wardens.

“We can well implement traffic laws provided public transport is given bays and parking plazas are built and encroachments removed,” he said and added: “In addition, the traffic police should be given a free hand to implement the traffic laws with no political interference.”

However, the traffic police also wondered how they would be able to cope with the situation when all traffic load would be shifted to Murree Road due to the construction work on Ammar Chowk remodeling.

In 2017, the then mayor and commissioner Rawalpindi had made a plan to construct four fish belly u-turns on Muree Road to make it signal free but due to unknown reasons the plan could not be materialised.

The commissioner had directed the RDA and the traffic police to make plans for traffic management and also help the civic body remove encroachments to avoid traffic congestion during school and office timings.

Published in Dawn, April 27th, 2021

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