PESHAWAR: Massive traffic jams are badly disrupting the routine lives of people in the provincial metropolis due to the hasty inauguration of construction work on Bus Rapid Project (BRT), as citizens have to face the ordeal of being stuck in vehicular traffic mess for hours, with no proper traffic management system in sight to bring masses out of this pathetic situation.
Peshawar, which was once called the “City of Flowers” and fragrance of “Gul-e-Doudi”, presently remains engulfed in dust and smoke, as billions of rupees worth BRT project had created a massive traffic disorder in the city. With no preemptive measures being taken by the provincial government, this issue is believed to become more serious in the future.
The smoke and thick dust have caused environmental hazards that could also been seen with the naked eye by visitors who travel to the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) for the first time. The problem is even more concerning since the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government has failed to redress the problem so far, which also included backtracking on its promise of ensuring early completion of the project.
The lone Grand Trunk road passing through main Peshawar had been dug out by foreign and local construction firms for the BRT project, which was being built with the help of Asian Development Bank (ADB) loan.
Most locals believed that this project would unlikely be completed within the stipulated time of six months, as trumpeted by the Chief Minister (CM) Pervez Khattak, whereas the tenure of the present PTI government would be completed within six months.
The CM had said on record that BRT was a lifeline for the PTI-government, which would ensure a win for the party in the general elections 2018. The people of the city were left confused regarding the fate of the project, which would be catastrophic for the local population if left incomplete.
The people and construction experts believed that it would be a miracle if BRT was completed within the prescribed time frame announced by the CM as March 18, 2018. It is pertinent to mention here that the digging process of the BRT, which passed through main roads of the provincial capital, were also not completed per schedule.
An official speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that ADB had informed the provincial government that the project should be completed in accordance with international standard construction procedure for getting funds.
The KP CM had then announced to inaugurate the project on March 18, which construction experts have termed as a politically motivated project. The experts opined that a minimum of 18 months was required to complete the project per the international standard procedure.
The grave problem of traffic mess, owing to narrowing of roads and ill-planning of the PTI government, had created unimaginable problems for commuters and other citizens who preferred to stay home and leave for important work only.
The presence of smoke-emitting rickshaws and deafening horns of old buses on different roads was also testing the nerves of locals, especially young students, patients, senior citizens and visitors coming from KP.
The gradual elimination of U-turns due to BRT construction had further added to the problem of traffic mess in the city, as long queues of traffic were seen in the heart of the provincial capital, including Hastnagri, Chamkani, Firdus, Tehkal and Jhangirabad areas.
Dabgari Garden, the hub of private hospitals and specialist doctors was mostly flooded with vehicles in the evening which irked citizens. It merits mention here that the hospitals in the area receive a lot of patients from all across the province and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).
Patients being transported to a hospital were seen suffering in ambulances that remained stuck in the traffic jam. The severe traffic jam greatly affected the patients who visited Lady Reading Hospital and Dabgari Garden from remote areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA. School buses also remained stuck in traffic jam and students were unable to reach their schools on time.
“I left General Bus stand at 3 pm and reached Dabgari garden at 5pm by covering the 35 minutes distance in two hours due to a massive traffic jam at Hastnagri and Firdus area,” said Misal Khan, a retired government employee living in the city.
“It was one of the worst and nerve testing experience I had in Peshawar since my retirement. My knees started to hurt due to the excessive use of clutch and brakes during driving,” he added.
He said it would have been better if the PTI government had launched work on the BRT soon after assuming power in 2013-14, adding that by now it would have been completed.
Khan demanded the provincial government to immediately start work on widening of GT road and other main roads on which BRT would pass, to ensure smooth flow of traffic in the city and bringing relief to people.