THE commissioning by the Punjab Police (PP) of a new cadre of city traffic police for Lahore is an admirable step forward. The move comes as part of the PP’s effort to modernise the section of the force tasked with traffic management in the province’s five big cities. The 8,445 new, urban, graduate recruits, of whom 75 per cent are dedicated to street patrolling, are also being placed on duty in Rawalpindi, Faisalabad, Multan and Gujranwala. The batch includes 139 commissioned women traffic police wardens, who have already taken up their duties in Lahore. With a respectable starting salary of Rs16,000 per month and the privileges enjoyed by grade 14 personnel under the public service commission guidelines, the new force comes equipped with mobile walkie-talkies, accident vehicle-cutting equipment and first aid provisions. The squad also has at its disposal several dozen well-equipped patrolling cars and some 2,850 motorbikes. Initial reports from Lahore suggest that citizens have responded positively to the new initiative aimed at bringing order to the city’s chaotic traffic. One hopes that the 32 per cent increase totalling nine billion rupees in the PP’s budget for the fiscal year 2007-08 will act as a further incentive for different works.
These are long overdue developments and need to be emulated by other provinces too. Big cities elsewhere in the country, like Karachi, Peshawar and Quetta, for instance, are crying out for similar upgrading in the working of their traffic police forces. The turnaround in Punjab is being carried out under the reforms envisaged in the Police Order of 2002. While a lot still needs to be done to implement reforms in all areas of policing to improve the department’s working, Punjab has at least made a beginning. It is time Sindh, Balochistan and the Frontier also took steps to modernise their respective police forces.
Rains put work on II Chundrigar Road in doldrums The current bouts of heavy pre-monsoon rains, including those caused by the cyclone (Yemyin), which passed close to the city last week, has hampered work on the development projects initiated by the City District Government Karachi (CDGK) across the metropolis. The most significant of these delays comes in the form of the set back suffered by the work on one of the most important arteries of the city, its business hub II Chundrigar Road. The work on the road has been badly damaged by the rains and its completion by the end of July seems to be an uphill task for the department concerned.
Informed sources told The News that the trenches on both sides of the road cannot be backfilled until it (the road) is fully exposed to the sun. Moreover, the debris lying on either side of the dug up road could not be removed until the sun comes out, as the dumping grounds were wet and causing trucks to get stuck in the morass.
The sources said that work on II Chundrigar Road could have been completed in time if there were no rains but one cannot fight with natural events.
The main hurdle in the completion of the road, as cited by the project director of the project, was that the Karachi Electric Supply Corporation (KESC) was also laying cables along Chundrigar Road right up to Fawara Chowk. The KESC’s digging work was started on June 10, the sources said, and added that once the laying of cables was completed, the backfilling of the ditches would be started soon.
Open trenches could be seen on stretches alongside of the II Chundrigar Road, Dr Ziauddin Ahmed Road and other adjoining thoroughfares.
Moreover, adding to the mulch of work, the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KW&SB) has also dug up many points of II Chundrigar Road to lay new water mains. The rains have also created hurdles in carrying out this work on water pipelines.
The sources said that the work could not be completed unless the weather is favourable and the ground is dry.
The work on refilling of trenches along Altaf Hussain Road was almost complete. All the restoration work on the above roads is supposed to be completed between July 7 to 15.
The laying work of sewerage lines at Shaheen Complex is also in doldrums thanks to the heavy pre-monsoon rains. This project was supposed to be completed and backfilled by July 3.
The sources admitted that the laying of sewerage lines along Dr Ziauddin Road has been completed but the carpeting is yet to be started and the recent rains have only further delayed work in this regard. Sewerage lines have been laid and the debris has been cleared from Haqqani Chowk to Chundrigar Road and all the remaining work is expected to be completed by July 14.
(By Fasahat Mohiuddin, The News-13, 02/07/2007)
Hundreds suffer as intercity buses fail to set off KARACHI, July 2: Hundreds of commuters are facing immense hardship as intercity bus services between Sindh and Balochistan have come to a halt after gusty winds and rains triggered by cyclone Yemyin washed away the road network.
The cyclone had hit the region on June 25, destroying the road links between the two provinces.
While hundreds of people are desperately trying in vain to catch some transport to visit their affected relatives in Balochistan, thousands of people stranded in different parts of the rain-battered province have no option but to wait for government or divine help to survive.
The business of intercity bus service has suffered a major setback due to the flash floods that have made travel between the two provinces highly risky.
A large number of buses, some of them with packed luggage compartments, are parked at the newly-built Intercity Bus Terminal in Saeedabad on Hub River Road, ready to set off to their respective destinations in Balochistan but waiting for a green signal.
The desperation of intending travellers can be gauged from the fact that the terminal operators have been receiving countless telephone calls a day seeking information about when the first bus will leave for Balochistan.
However, the situation is so grim that even a tentative date could not be predicted, according to the officials at the terminal.
One of the intending travellers, Iqbal Baloch, who visited the terminal with the same query, told Dawn that he wanted to proceed to Turbat where his family members were hit by the natural calamity.
“I want to reach there as soon as possible to rescue them but cannot even enter Balochistan in the absence of some transport means,” he said, frustration writ large on his face.
According to an official of the Intercity Bus Terminal, around 150 buses leave Karachi daily for different destinations in the neighbouring province but since the suspension of the bus service on June 25, none has set off yet.
Transporters in the dark
“Four of our buses carrying passengers and their luggage were trapped in the affected areas of Agor and Hingol in Balochistan,” a transporter, Murad Jaan who operates 14 buses, told Dawn.
He said he was in constant touch with the civil administration and the police in Karachi who appeared cooperative but the response to his queries regarding the buses and passengers from the authorities in Balochistan was not satisfactory.
Mr Jaan said: “My people travelled to the affected area in bus to help the trapped passengers but the military personnel and the civil administration of Balochistan carrying out a rescue operation there did not cooperate with our men.” Ultimately, he added, they had to return to Karachi.
About the prospects of intercity bus services’ resumption, he complained: “We are not taken into confidence with regard to the situation in the calamity-hit areas… the Balochistan authorities keep telling us daily that the route will be opened tomorrow but it has remained closed for a week now and still there is no hope for its reopening in the coming days.”
Sitting deeply worried in his office at the terminal along with other equally anxious transporters, Mr Jaan said: “All of us are perturbed over the suspension of service as it has been causing us a loss of millions of rupees per day.”
He said that owing to the relevant authorities’ act of keeping transporters ill-informed about the condition of highways and roads, they could not deal properly with the passengers who had booked their seats or goods and desperately seeking some information about a precise date and time for the departure of the buses.
(By Arman Sabir, Dawn-17, 03/07/2007)
Countering conveyance problems
Seventy-five CNG buses will arrive at Karachi Port on July 22. These will be operative from the first week of August, provided that the weather situation is favourable.
City Nazim, Syed Mustafa Kamal talked to The News exclusively right after presenting the city budget for the year 2007 to 2008 at the old KMC building. He said that Governor of Sindh, Dr Ishratul Ibad will present 22 buses of the total 250 which are to arrive at Karachi Port in phases.
He stated that these buses are arriving in the city under a private-public partnership and this is a consortium of two private firms. He added that it has been planned that 100 buses will arrive in Karachi each week so that the ensuing transport problems can be resolved to some extent.
Furthermore, 50 of these buses will be 18 metres long with a capacity to hold 140 passengers. It has been proposed that there will be two large CNG stations for these buses but initially these buses will acquire gas from two depots, one at Surjani town and the other in Landhi.
On the other hand, PSO and the CNG Owners Association have agreed to provide assistance in this regard. Despite several technical problems that surround CNG stations, private entrepreneurs will be encouraged to establish more of them to meet the needs of these new city buses.
Since the Nazim was rushing to meet with the Prime Minister, another officer stepped in to provide further details. He explained the details of various routes in the first phase; Surjani Town to Merewether tower, Gulshan-e-Hadeed to Merewether Tower, Landhi to Baldia and from Korangi to Merewether Tower.
The officer said that since 2002, several large buses arrived in Karachi for but reasons better known to those in control then, these were sent to the Punjab. The buses now arriving in Karachi are said to have a life of 10 years.
It may be mentioned here that CNG buses are being introduced to free the city from pollution and thick black smoke emitted by diesel-run vehicles. It was also stated that the old, obsolete buses will continue to run alongside the new ones, as the city is short of public transport and cannot afford to get rid of them.
DCO Karachi, said that although these old buses are operating in hazardous conditions, they are still providing transport to the citizens. The officer further disclosed that Karachi with a population of 16 million requires 9000 buses. At present, the city is falling short of 5000 buses. Each day 600 vehicles are registered in the city and this contributes towards the existing chaotic traffic situation.
Moreover, Karachiites are currently facing serious parking problems and traffic congestion. The Nazim is of the opinion that a Mass Transit System is the solution to this problem. With regard to introducing this system, talks with the Federal Government are in the final stages. It is hoped that the system will be implemented this year.