RAWALPINDI: Three events in the twin cities on Monday threw traffic in the garrison city out of gear, leaving hundreds of citizens stranded on roads for hours.
One of the events was the visit of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to a free wheat flour mega centre on Double Road where he inspected the distribution system. Besides, protesters of the health authority blocked Kutchery Chowk while roads were closed in the capital due to the arrival of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan to the Islamabad High Court (IHC).
All three contributed to one of the worst traffic jams in the garrison city.
According to sources, the district administration made arrangements for the visit of PM Sharif at three free wheat flour mega centres at Liaquat Bagh, Double Road, Shamsabad, and Adiala Road but due to security concerns, he visited the Double Road free wheat flour mega centre.
Due to his expected visit to Liaquat Bagh and Adiala Road, law enforcement agencies and the district administration made arrangements, which caused the worst traffic jams on the main roads of the city.
Congestion caused by PM’s visit to city, Imran Khan’s arrival at IHC, health authority employees’ protest
Mohammad Ramazan, a motorist on Murree Road, said it was difficult for four-wheelers to enter the city area especially when VIPs came with full protocol.
“It took more than an hour to go to Fawara Chowk from Liaquat Bagh even in the month of fasting,” he said.
Saleem Ahmed, a motorist on Old Airport Road, said he wanted to go to Saddar but the rush spoiled fuel and time. He said there was a need of proper planning for traffic in that area.
Nasir Raja, a resident of Jhanda Chichi, said it was difficult to pick children from school as traffic was completely blocked in the area from 11am to 12 noon.
He said the administration should ban protests and the arrival of VIPs in the city during the day.
Farhan Shah, a motorist on Murree Road, said people were already facing financial problems and the blockage of roads was just awful. He said that travel time from Chandni Chowk to Shamsabad is 10 to 15 minutes but it took an hour to pass this area.
“Traffic Engineering is the duty of Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA) and traffic police but the officials made policies while sitting in their offices despite visiting congested areas,” he said.
On the other hand, some visitors said that there was need to provide alternative routes for people but the traffic police and administration pay attention to welcome the prime minister instead of providing relief to common citizens.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday said dedicated counters were being established for needy people, not registered with Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), to provide free flour bags to them at distribution centres under the Ramazan Package, adds APP.
“A huge number of people who are not registered with BISP, deserve free flour bags as they are also living below the poverty line,” he said while talking to journalists during his visit to a free wheat flour distribution centre.
He said National Database Registration Authority (Nadra) and Punjab Information Technology Board took up the challenge to include non-BISP people by proposing a solution to this issue and developing a system which would be fully operational by today (Monday).
Under this system, he said the non-BISP deserving people would be eligible to get free flour from separate counters after registering their names in the system.
The prime minister said from tomorrow (Tuesday), the people who have not yet received any flour bag, would be provided all three bags at a time so they do not have to travel again for the purpose.
He appreciated officials of the Punjab government and Rawalpindi administration, who were working day and night to make the distribution process smooth and uninterrupted. “Their passion to serve the poor during fasting is praiseworthy,” he added.
He said the government was putting in full effort to change the fate of Pakistan. He also called upon people from all walks of life to support the government in its pro-poor efforts.
He said he would also pay unannounced visits to flour distribution centres across the province to ensure smooth distribution of bags to the people.
Earlier, the prime minister met with the beneficiaries at the centre and asked them about their problems.
The Rawalpindi commissioner briefed the prime minister about the distribution process adding that four centres were working in the city.
He also issued directions to accommodate other people from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan but who were living in Punjab.
Published in Dawn, March 28th, 2023
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