Shops in Muslim Town are continuing to lose business because of the government’s failure to complete the service roads around the Muslim Town flyover, which was inaugurated on May 30.
The disruption to their businesses has gone on since September last year, when work on the flyover began and traffic on Ferozepur Road was diverted to the service lanes. The service roads crumbled due to heavy traffic loads including heavy machinery used in the construction.
Though the flyover was officially inaugurated six weeks ago, the service roads under the flyover are still unrepaired. Further, workers are now building an elevated bus lane for the Metro Bus Service project, formerly known as the Bus Rapid Transit System. With that work due to take at least six months, the businesses have been left wondering about their future.
Hafiz Zubair, the owner of Delite Store, said that business had never been so bad in the 42 years since he had opened the store on Wahdat Road. “I would say our sales are 30 per cent of what they used to be before the construction of the flyover began,” said Zubair.
He said that most of his clientele were from Ichhra and Canal Bank Road and they had stopped coming after the road was broken up. He said that some shop owners had formed unions and approached the government, which had repaired patches of road in front of their shops, but most of the road was still a mess.
Malik Ayaz, the owner of Rafiq Sweet House, said that they had been losing business since the start of the flyover project. “We had hoped the situation would improve after the inauguration of the flyover, but they haven’t repaired the road at ground level,” he said.
Wajid Butt, the general manager of the popular Butt Sweet House, said that the business was operating at 50 per cent of the level it was at last year. He said that he did not expect things to improve soon. He said that the government had not communicated any deadlines for the repair of the roads to the shopkeepers.
Sabir Khan Sadozai, the project director for the Muslim Town flyover, said that the repair of the service roads had initially been delayed because the Water and Sanitation Agency had to lay a sewage line. Then the Traffic Engineering and Transport Planning Agency (TEPA) stopped the repairs as the final design of the elevated bus lane for the Metro Bus Service, being drawn up by the National Engineering Services of Pakistan (NESPAK), had not arrived. “Otherwise we could have had a situation where we finished the reconstruction of the road but TEPA had to break sections of it again to lay piers for the elevated bus lane,” he said.Sadozai said that the design of the bus lane had been received from NESPAK last week and they had started the road works. He said that WASA still had some work to finish, namely to raise the height of gutter necks on Wahdat Road and Ferozepur Road so that the manholes were at the same level as the road. He said that work on the service lane around FC College and the 1122 office would be finished in a few days. He said some sections of the road would not be repaired until after the bus lane is finished.
Asked why the design of the bus lane for the MBS project had been changed and delayed, TEPA Director Mazhar Hussain, who is in charge of the construction, said that the decision had been made to avoid the expense and hassle of having to acquire land for a ground-level bus lane.