ISLAMABAD, Sept 17: With water accumulating at almost every turn and main roads facing a flood-like situation, driving proved to be a test of skills in Rawalpindi and Islamabad as heavy rains lashed the twin cities throughout the day on Monday.
The rains started late Monday morning and continued even after evening, creating massive traffic mess, especially at points between Rawalpindi and Islamabad.
The water level at Leh Nullah in Rawalpindi increased to 12 feet against the maximum level of 20 feet, forcing the dwellers of the low-lying areas to pass a restless day in fear of flooding.
The Met Office has predicted more rains and thundershowers with isolated heavy falls at a number of places in northern and central Punjab, Kashmir and Hazara divisions on Tuesday.
“The heavy rains may trigger land sliding in vulnerable areas of Kashmir and Hazara division,” it added. The rains caused by a combination of Westerly system and the ebbing monsoons not only took the authorities by surprise but also caught commuters unaware in the massive traffic jams, especially at Benazir Bhutto Road in Rawalpindi, I.J. Principal Road, Faizabad, Kashmir Highway and at some points at the expressway.
“The worst situation was low visibility and water even on roads within sectors,” said Ms Shaheen, as it took around two hours for her to reach home at Shamsabad from Blue Area. “To avoid heavy traffic, I turned towards I-8 sector after Zero Point but there too the condition was bad.”
Though the situation was bad at almost every turn, it was beyond control at the intersection of I.J. Principal Road and Double Road as the heavy traffic coming from Pirwadhai continued to move on despite the red signal.
The capital city administration was swift to be in action and the officials made contacts with relevant departments to ease the situation on roads.
“All our officers are in the field and there is a smooth coordination between the CDA and traffic police officials to normalise things as soon as possible,” said Amer Ali, the deputy commissioner of Islamabad. “But clearing the accumulated water from the roads takes time as CDA has limited machinery.”
Water also entered some houses in low-lying areas and slums in the federal capital; however, no serious damage to life or property was reported.
The highest amount of rainfall was witnessed at Zero Point, where 114 mm downpour was recorded followed by Saidpur with 76 mm, Golra 48 mm while Shamsabad had 60 mm and the Bokra 110 mm rainfall. Overall, the Met Office recorded 117 mm rainfall in Islamabad and 59 mm in Rawalpindi.
According to the Met Office, it was the last spell of monsoon rains but a Westerly system added to the intensity of the downpours.
Due to limited rainfall in Murree – 16 mm only – , there has been a negligible impact on the water level in the Rawal, Simly and the Khanpur lakes. The water level in these reservoirs increased up to six inches only, but better inflows are expected with more rains on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The city district government of Rawalpindi, Civil Defence and Rescue 1122 remained on high alert throughout the day to deal with any emergency.
Meanwhile, faulty sewerage system caused a lot of inconvenience to the residents of the city. Rainwater entered houses where people kept draining it out for hours. The entire city smelled of sewage that welled out of drains.
The sewage also entered the basement of Holy Family Hospital, causing hardships to the patients. The basement of the hospital houses the burns unit and physiotherapy ward.
Traffic came to a grinding halt for hours in many areas. Motorbike riders bore the burnt of the rain fury at Benazir Bhutto Road, Rawal Road, Raja Bazaar and Jamia Masjid Road as many vehicles broke down on the flooded roads. Even on the Rawal Road, two vehicles broke down causing heavy traffic jam.
“The Leh Nullah rose to 12 feet but the city government did not receive calls from the residents of the low-lying areas to pump out the water from their locality,” said District Coordination Officer (DCO) Saqib Zafar, while talking to Dawn.
He said about 400 sanitary workers visited the city and helped people drain out the rainwater.