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Traffic chaos

Construction work on Sheranwala Gate flyover results in traffic logjams and frayed tempers

traffic

PHOTOS: MOHSIN RAZA/BOL NEWS

LAHORE: Brawls and exchange of harsh words between traffic police officials and angry commuters particularly rickshaw and Qingqi drivers have become a routine matter at Do Moria Pull near Lahore Railway Station, Bol News has learnt.

Such public nuisance and tensions between traffic wardens and commuters have escalated ever since the project of Sheranwala Gate flyover got underway in June last year. The flyover project worth Rs5 billion has been named after Lahore’s Sufi saint Hazrat Ali Hajvery Data Ganj Bakhsh. Out of the total, Rs2.634bn have been set as construction cost while rest for the land acquisition and compensation.

Sheranwala Gate, originally known as Khizri Gate is among the 13 gates of Lahore’s historic walled city, housing one of the most iconic structures of the Mughal era. Lahore Railway Station was built just outside of the walled city at the junction known as Australia Chowk, intersecting Empress Road, Allama Iqbal Road and Circular Road.

For traffic warden Mohammad Nadeem, deployed at Do Moria Pull, it is quite a challenge to fix the traffic during an ongoing construction project and that too at such a busy area like the railway station.

Although the construction work is going on, still thousands of commuters come and go daily from their different localities to their respective workplaces while crossing the railway line near Do Moria Pull.

Traffic jams are a routine alongside the railway track and on a rainy day it becomes difficult to cross the railway line near Do Moria Pull. Nadeem told Bol News that not only rickshaw and Qingqi drivers but motorcyclists too become annoyed whenever they’re asked to follow a line to keep the traffic flow continuing on a tiny road alongside the railway track. “We do not issue much challans in those areas where development work is under progress but sometimes we have to do it in order to warn others.”

PHOTO: MOHSIN RAZA/BOL NEWS

Hike in fares

On the other hand, Hameed, a resident of Shadbagh tells a different tale. He added that he is an auto mechanic at Badami Bagh and he has to reach the shop while crossing Do Moria Pull every day. He further said rickshaw and Qingqi drivers have increased their fare after the start of the project as previously he would pay Rs30 to Rs40 to reach Badami Bagh. Now he has to pay Rs50 to Rs60 for each ride.

Ayesha, a resident of Mughalpura, echoes similar concerns. She said she had to pay Rs200 to Rs250 for a special ride (without any passenger on board) but now rickshaws charge in the range of Rs400 to Rs500 from or to Badami Bagh, Lorry Adda. Ayesha shared that not only more money had to be paid but it took double the time than usual to reach her destination.

A rickshaw driver named Sajid admitted fares had gone up but blamed high prices of LPG for the hike. “A few months ago, the price of LPG was at Rs120 to Rs130 per kg but now we are getting the same quantity of LPG against Rs210 to Rs220.”

The under-construction road from Badami Bagh (Lorry Adda) to railway station can also be termed as ‘road of rickshaws and Qingqis’ as one can clearly see many such three-wheelers there. From Badami Bagh and railway station, these three-wheelers travel as far as Jallo Morr.

PHOTO: MOHSIN RAZA/BOL NEWS

Better days ahead?

This road [from Badami Bagh to railway station] was among the most polluted and dirtiest roads of the city but after completion of this project it will become more attractive.

As per estimates, the four-lane (two-lane dual carriageway of 7.3 metres width each side) Sheranwala flyover once completed and open for the public, will be used by 130,000 vehicles every day travelling from surrounding areas including Circular Road, Masti Gate, Lahore Railway Station and Badami Bagh; and the northern parts of Lahore. Other beneficiary areas of the project include Walled City, Akbari Mandi, Azam Cloth Market, Lunda Bazaar, Shadbagh, Misri Shah, GT Road, Shah Alam Market, Data Darbar area, Brandreth Road and Azadi Chowk.

According to Lahore Development Authority (LDA), the flyover’s total length and width with ramps is 1,000 metres and 17 metres respectively with 19 spans. In addition to this, the new sewerage system measuring 2,500 metres is also part of the project. The project also includes improvement of the Circular Road section starting from Australia Chowk and ending at Lahore Fort.

The Sheranwala flyover is among the four key projects started last year by the Punjab government under the banner of Lahore Package to streamline the traffic of the metropolis. Punjab’s chief city had also remained a priority of former provincial ruling party Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) which had reportedly spent billions of rupees on roads and infrastructure development in the past 10 years.

PHOTO: MOHSIN RAZA/BOL NEWS

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)’s other ongoing projects in Lahore include Shahkam Chowk and widening of Lahore Bridge (Kot Lakhpat). Gulab Devi underpass, renamed after late philanthropist Abdul Sattar Edhi, was opened for traffic a few days ago.

Similarly, work on Shahkam Chowk and widening of Lahore Bridge is also in full swing and the authorities concerned claim that these projects will also be completed soon. Earlier, Lal Shahbaz Qalandar underpass was completed and opened to the public by the Punjab government.

Spokesperson for the Punjab government Hasaan Khawar terms the Sheranwala Gate flyover a “historic project and a gift” of Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar for the people of the Walled City. He stated that the project is the first major initiative for the people of the area. The spokesperson highlighted that this flyover will connect old and new Lahore and will also overcome major traffic issues. According to Khawar, Rs270 million have been saved due to a transparent tender of this project. “We are going to construct three parking plazas around Sheranwala Gate, Masti Gate and Ek Moria Pull to park as many as 1,000 vehicles. LDA will complete this project before the March deadline.”


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