RAWALPINDI: It seems Rawalpindi is functioning without the traffic police, as one would hardly see any traffic wardens enforcing traffic laws on major arteries of the garrison city. The traffic police have only shown their performances by issuing press releases – claiming crackdowns against juvenile drivers, one-wheelers, vehicles using unspecified registration plates, and the ones plying on roads with tinted windows.
These statements also speak of crackdowns against encroachment with the help of the anti-encroachment squads of the Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA).
But on the ground, the situation is totally different. Traffic is moving haphazardly, especially at the busiest intersections like Kutchery Chowk, Marrir Chowk, Fawara Chowk, Raja Bazaar, Saddar, Murree Road, and other parts of the downtown. And public transporters are violating traffic rules, especially parking and picking and dropping passengers at un-designated places.
The traffic wardens are there, one could see them standing in groups along roadsides – some engaged with public service vehicles’ drivers or private vans transporting goods – negotiating with drivers and dishing out challans while ignoring traffic congestion on the other side of the road.
Since the newly posted Chief Traffic Officer Taimoor Khan has assumed the charge of his office, he has not given any future plan for improving traffic and motivating traffic staff to improve traffic in the city and cantonment areas.
A former senior police officer who worked in the traffic department attributed the city’s deteriorating traffic issue to the ‘weak command’ or supervision.
He claimed that in addition to the poor leadership, there are some additional factors for the worsening traffic situation in the city, including an increase in the number of vehicles, encroachments, and the inefficiency of government agencies.
On the other hand, the public also complained about the rude attitude of some traffic wardens, especially those operating forklifts, while issuing tickets to drivers.
“I have hardly seen any traffic warden on duty at Defence Chowk – opposite to Fauji Foundation Hospital where public transporters are parking wagons right in front of the hospital gate and cars overtaking dangerously,” said a retired army officer in his comments.
The situation near Soan Bridge – close to Lahore High Court Rawalpindi Bench building, Al-Shifa Eye hospital, Katchery Chowk, outside the commissioner’s office was not different.
A resident commented that it appeared as if the district administration and police high-ups in Rawalpindi had no interest in community concerns because they never bothered to observe the issues on their own after leaving their workplaces.
Additional police in commercial areas
Meanwhile, in Islamabad, the police decided to deploy additional personnel around main markets and shopping plazas in the federal capital to ensure convenience for the citizens and keep flow of traffic normal during Ramazan.
According to a statement, the chief traffic officer chaired a special meeting at traffic police headquarters to look into parking and traffic-related issues.
It was decided to make the traffic congestion unit more effective and functional and special tasks were given to Zonal DSPs in this regard. The meeting decided to constitute special squads for strict action against public service vehicles and one-wheelers. — Ikram Junaidi in Islamabad also contributed to this report
Published in Dawn, March 27th, 2023
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