By Usman Kakar
ISLAMABAD, (APP): Whereas, Islamabad is ranked the second most beautiful capital in the world after London,routine traffic congestions, encroachments and dilapidated roads are not only reducing the beauty of metropolitan but have also laid bare the fact that transportation network cannot withstand the pressure of ever- growing road users.
A serious effort, especially by CDA and Police has become a must today than ever – the former being entrusted to repair road or put in new one and latter to ensure smooth traffic flow.
There has been a phenomenal increase in the number of vehicles on the roads, which in turn has led to increase in traffic problems. Traffic jams have become daily sights on major arteries including Islamabad Express Way, G.T road, Kashmir Highway, IJP Principal Road as well as downtown city. Patients, school kids, office-goers, women and all others, who dare venture out in the morning, have to brace themselves for long and un-easy traffic jams. It has become so common that those tasked to take of such occurrences hardly show up on the scene. It is now widely held belief that if a traffic is choked up, it opens up itself.
Besides, the area for parking vehicles is constantly shrinking under pressure from the rising number of cars and bikes. Parking in the city is a major traffic problem, especially around commercial areas including Blue Area, Jinnah Super, Super Market and various Markazes.
When contacted to know about the traffic challenges in the city and the way forward to resolve them, the media-shy Senior Superintendent of Police (Traffic) Farrukh Rasheed sought greater cooperation by CDA in this regard.
He said that cooperation of CDA was required to mark zebra crossing, placing sign boards, giving diversion through U-turns or fish bellies and improving road infrastructure. To a question about any road survey conducted by ITP, he said this force came into being in 2005 when the traffic flow was 200,000 vehicles but now the traffic flow has increased to 12,00,000 vehicles or bikes per day on various roads of the city.
He said, “There are 631 personnel in ITP at present and an additional strength of 3000 policemen is required to run the traffic related affairs effectively; there were limited sectors in Islamabad few years back but now with the expanding sectors the number of vehicles are also increasing.”
When contacted, a senior official of CDA admitted that Islamabad Traffic Police (ITP) had proposed for zebra crossings and diversion points, installalation of sign boards and removal of misleading sign boards from various roads. Though force has suggested to improve road infrastructure at various places but limited budget was hurdle to implement all of its recommendations.
Regarding the point of view of Traffic Police, he said that officials from both sides remain in contact and matters were resolved after mutual discussion.
He said that parking lots under illegal occupation have been vacated from various areas and CDA had removed hundreds of encroachments including footpaths and parking lots in just E, G and F sectors. Action was still underway, he added.
He agreed to establish more parking lots around weekly bazaars, commercial plazas, Super Market, Blue area and the district courts in F-8 and around the fruit and vegetable market.
A former head of ITP when contacted for unbiased version he suggested to update road infrastructure as per current requirements. He said Islamabad had still the same infrastructure which used to be in 90s and it was unable to accommodate the influx of vehicles.
He said that both police and CDA have to mull over the situation and ensure cooperation to remove the bottlenecks on the existing arteries.
He was of the view that traffic police department must use technology for controlling and monitoring the movement of vehicles at important and busy crossroads for which the department officials could take the help of safe city cameras.
Giving more suggestions to ensure safer road environment and smooth traffic flow in the city, he said that drives should be launched to educate masses about traffic rules and driving license of the person should be canceled in case of repeated violation.
Cooperation of parents should be ensured to check minor driving and necessary legislation should be made to punish parents of minor drivers with sentence of at least a month in jail, he proposed.
Public transport should be increased in all major cities to deal with the rising number of vehicles on roads. Along with that, High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) Zones should be introduced.
Only close cooperation between CDA and ITP would work successfully in easing flow of traffic on roads of metropolitan, he maintained.