Scanty road devices cause accidents, traffic jams

LAHORE - Around 60 per cent roads lack road safety devices (RSDs) which is a major cause of accidents, violation of traffic rules and traffic jams at 20 bottlenecks in the City, says a TEPA study report. The report said the RSDs including variable message signs (VMS), cat eyes, zebra crossings, road markings and road signs such as warning signs (indicating schools and hospitals), mandatory traffic signs, guidance signs and regulatory signs have almost been vanished from the city's roads. The report further said about Rs 800 million were required to equip all the City roads with the required furnishings. The report further revealed that TEPA had conducted a survey of the City's main roads to install 1,500 traffic signboards but the project could not make any progress due to one reason or the other. "The roads that pose alarming situation include the Canal Bank Road, Ferozepur Road, Wahdat Road, Jail Road, The Mall, MB Garden Town near Barkat Market, Shahrah-e-Jamia Punjab, Shabbir Usmani Road, Maulana Shaukat Ali Road and Multan Road," the report said. Due to lack of RSDs, the report said, around 20 bottlenecks on the City roads had become permanent nuisance for the Lahorites resulting in traffic mess for hours on daily basis and disrupting routine life. These bottlenecks in the provincial metropolis have already been mentioned in Master Plan 2021, the report added. "These are Chowk Taxali, Chowk Chauburji, Chowk Istanbul, Chowk Davis Mall, Zafar Ali Road, Bhekewal Morr, Dubai Chowk, Kalima Chowk, Qainchi Amar Sidhu, Model Town Morr, Chowk Shalamar, Do Moria Pul, Moochi Gate, Minar-e-Pakistan (Azadi Chowk), Chowk Yateem Khana, Morr Samanabad, Scheme Morr, Qurtaba Chowk, Canal Bridge on Jail Road, Lakshami Chowk and Regal Chowk," the report disclosed. Moreover, a traffic study conducted by the TEPA in 2008 has shown that the traffic volume on all City roads has crossed the international standard capacity of lanes, that was 8,000 vehicles per lane. According to the study, the City roads will be chocked by 2010-15 due to increasing traffic volume in the provincial metropolis. Talking to The Nation, a TEPA official requesting anonymity, blamed the city district government Lahore (CDGL) for not maintaining or improving the RSDs for the past two decades. He said that sidewalks were only painted during visits of foreign dignitaries. However, he added, these sidewalks were also not painted again when the paint faded out after a couple of months. He said the lack of RSDs on the roads, commuters and traffic police find it hard to control the traffic. He said that equipping the City's roads with RSDs, which are also called road furniture, was the responsibility of the CDGL's Works and Services (W&S) Department. He said now the chief minister had also empowered TEPA to install, maintain and improve RSDs on major roads. He said because there were no markings on the roads, the lanes system had completely collapsed. He added that in some places, the markings were present, but they did not conform to the standards. The TEPA official lamented that cat eyes, one of the most important road signs, were nowhere to be seen in the City. He suggested that thermoplastic paint should be used for road markings because it is longer than the regular paint. Another official of the department concerned said road signs had been installed by the Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA) to collect revenue from the private companies. However, he said the PHA had not maintained or improved the signs. He said the responsibility of installing, repairing and maintaining road signs lies with the CDGL's Works and Services Department, but it did not pay attention to this issue. "It is a national tragedy that no arrangements are made for the road's operational maintenance once it is completed. A newly constructed road should have a life of at least 25 years, but poor maintenance makes them rickety in only a few years after their completion" commented Chief Engineer TEPA Khushal Khan. He proposed mandatory technical inspection of all the City roads every year. He added that after the inspection, a routine and special maintenance plan should be implemented. He suggested the maintenance should be done in January, February and March every year when the City receives maximum rains. EDO (Works and Services) Khalid Imran Burki said that maintenance and improvement of road safety devices should be done periodically, but this concept was attached with the line and lane system, which was frequently violated in the City because of the uncontrolled traffic.

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