Chandni Chowk Flyover project and its traffic woes

Chandni Chowk Local

Image by mctrent via Flickr

On the construction site of the 1.2-billion-rupee Chandni Chowk Flyover project, work is in full swing – clouds of dust and cement engulf the excavators digging up roads, the workers engaged in demolition, and the engineers and steel-fixers assembling the huge pillars that will support the flyover.

Lending to the chaos and din is the haphazard traffic which the wardens try to control while frantically waving their hands.Their job is made more difficult when water is showered – the billowing dust clouds turn into mud, which hinders the traffic even more as motorists and motorbike riders avoid the mud-tracks. Recently, the disarray led to the first non-fatal road accident at the work zone when Shahbaz, a surveyor associated with the construction company, was badly injured after being hit by a motorcyclist.

Though the project is expected to be completed in three months, the people of Pindi are not pleased by the inconvenience caused by the poor traffic plan. It seems that despite meetings held under the chair of Commissioner Zahid Saeed, the city
administration was not able to pre-empt and prevent the traffic jams.

According to sources close to the meetings, alternative traffic plans had been discussed in detail in the presence of the then city traffic officer, SP traffic and other senior officials of the district management, and several alternative traffic routes were proposed.  Senior traffic police officers had personally surveyed the site with the engineers and pointed to the damaged parts
of the roads which needed patch-work and manholes that needed covers.

It was decided all work to prevent traffic problems would be completed before commencement of the construction work on
the site: this included service roads for diversion of traffic, patch work on existing link roads, roads signs, traffic cones for dividing the road and cat eyes would be installed for public guidance, motorists and general public would be guided through print and electronic media advertisements, 500 masks would be provided to the traffic wardens who were to be deployed in the construction zone to prevent respiratory problems.

In addition to all these, it was also decided that an alternate traffic office would be built near Chandni Chowk for wardens as the existing traffic office would be demolished.

However, a visit to the site reveals that none of these plans have materialised. There are hardly any extra wardens, there are no road signs, no alternate roads, no patch-work done and no manhole covered. The only banners hanging are those that express appreciation for the chief minister of Punjab. Some residents fear that they will develop respiratory problems if the large clouds of dust and cement from the construction site continued.

When Dawn contacted the city traffic authority, an officer said: “None of our initial concerns have been addressed. The city traffic police are simply doing their job to keep the traffic moving.” Traffic police officials squarely lay the blame on the city administration.

Old time residents of Pindi opine that instead of constructing a flyover at Chandni Chowk, the district administration and local PML-N parliamentarians should have concentrated on removing encroachments from the existing roads and building the Kutchery Chowk flyover.

For many the provincial government seems more interested in politicking than governance and administration of the city.

On the other hand, there are concerns that another project may be jeopardised by political meddling. The under-pass at Chur Chowk has been approved but construction work has not been started as local parliamentarians have changed their mind and they are of the view that a flyover should be built. For now, they seem least interested in how the public tax money is spent.


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