Blockades for pedestrians, smooth traffic

LAHORE:  Imagine walking on Mall Road in rush hour dodging the fast moving motorbikes and cars from Alhamra to Faisal Chowk and then on the Queen’s Road up to the Chowk after crossing CCPO office, can be a horrifying incident. The foot paths and service roads have been encroached upon by Alhamra, Wapda House, CM Secretariat and CCPO office.
Barricades, cement blocks and various obstacles erected by police and private security personnel in the wake of security threats are not only a source of nuisance but also increase the traffic mess, a survey conducted by The Nation on Tuesday revealed.

The practice of erecting such barricades continues despite Lahore High Court directions. Punjab government in March 2012 assured the Lahore High Court that hurdles and barricades outside the office of inspector general of police and other offices erected unnecessarily will be removed soon. Then City Capital Police Officer Ahmad Raza Tahir, Deputy Inspector General of Police Ghulam Mahmood Dogar, District Coordination Officer Ahad Cheema and other officials were also present in the court on the occasion.

Then the undertaking was given by a provincial law officer who also informed the court of Justice Manzoor Ahmad Malik that closed thoroughfares outside the offices of different top officials of the police had been opened. But it can be witnessed that such barricades have increased in number.

The police officials are of the view that main purpose behind such fortifications is to 'secure important government offices’ by breaking the pace of motor vehicles to keep a check on suspected ones. Furthermore, the zigzag and poorly planned placing of hurdles is an irritating factor for the commuters because this in fact is causing traffic jams on roads instead of slowing it down.

Much to the 'dismay of a common man, the authorities concerned also have ordered to set up such barricades, on some important roads or streets on which hospitals and schools are situated, which is just for the sake of security of 'one person or offices particularly of any high ranking police officer, bureaucrat, diplomat and politician and thus creating troubles for the general public, patients or the people who travel to their workplace.

There is no room for pedestrians or traffic near Punjab Assembly (the road is closed when assembly is in session), Governor’s House, IGP office, Civil Secretariat, DIG Office, police stations, Police Line Empress Road and many more buildings where police officers or other high ranking officers have their offices. Besides the government buildings, many private buildings including local hotels also have erected barricades outside their building by blocking the footpaths.

Naveed Iqbal, a resident of Mozang Road, who often has to go to Stock Exchange, was of the view that government should make some parking plaza to end the congestion of traffic there due to illegal parking lot on the road. “Commuters in general and residents of the surrounding localities in particular have to face difficulties due to the hurdles placed for the security of the Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) on the Queens Road (Shaarey Fatima Jinnah), I often have to move on this road and it is a nightmarish experience,” he said.

Faaheem Khan, a resident of Majid Nizami Road (Lawrence Road), maintained that traffic remained blocked on almost all the arteries due to the barricades put up for pickets.

It has never been heard that any terrorist or criminal have been arrested from the pickets on Egerton Road, Empress Road, Allama Iqbal Road, Mozang Road, Temple Road, Wahdat Road, Cooper Road and some other roads but they do create hindrance in smooth flow of traffic.

“TEPA and other authorities concerned never take notice of the situation to ensure smooth flow of traffic and comfort of pedestrians,” said Javed Mehmood of Mozang.

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