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Traffic Issues in Lahore and their Solutions

Traffic issues in Lahore are a mess now. There is an urgent need to revisit all transport policies & implementation to resolve it.
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Traffic Issues in Lahore

Traffic is a mess in Lahore due to multiple reasons. However, the fundamental reason is defective urban management. The other critical reason is the non-availability of a functional public transport system. Then, there are other reasons for administrative and engineering failures. Migration is also causing the problem from worse to worst. The skills of engineers, administrators and contractors need to be improved to meet the challenges of sprawling cities like Lahore.

Deficient road engineering is a primary contributing factor to traffic congestion and road accidents. The other contributory factors to traffic accidents are driver fatigue, reckless driving, speeding, distracted driving, underage driving, negligently maintained vehicles, local modification of motor vehicle design, geometric design of the road, violation of traffic signals, drug driving and mobile phone use during the driving. Sadly, an ingrained inbuilt flaw in the working of different departments of the state machinery further adds to the distress. The need for proper U-turns at desired places is a failure of road engineering. Various U-turns are provided at unreasonable distances, which urge the commuter to violate the one-way rule to save time and fuel. A good-to-hear “signal-free corridors” lack a proper exit plan: another critical failure of traffic planning and engineering. The engineering failure is due to the reason that a generalist bureaucracy controls LDA. Then, there needs to be a functional local government system.

Many choke points are developed, where three or four-lane shifts into a single lane. Thokar Niaz Beg, Chowk Yateem Khana, and Bhatti Chowk are a few examples of poor road engineering. Another significant factor is missing service roads on a few critical arteries, which not only contributes to the woes of road users residing nearby societies or housing schemes but also causes a massive traffic mess. The legal responsibility of some roads to different departments poses a substantial challenge to planning, policy formation, and implementation. The jurisdiction of various governmental agencies is critical for the legal dispensation of powers and responsibilities. If engineering and legal bottlenecks are removed, traffic could flow more efficiently. In contrast, various roads could be better managed, especially during office and school times.

There should be proper education for commuters and pedestrians, as traffic sense does not prevail among road users. The transport department must take the lead and create awarness among the commuters, followed by strict implementation of the law. Traffic violators should not be spared. Another critical factor causing vehicles’ slow-moving traffic jams is careless parking. People carelessly park their vehicles on the sides of congested roads without realizing that their vehicles may end up blocking the entire traffic flow, especially near schools, markets and offices. In such a situation, everyone on the road worsens the traffic jam by self-assuming the responsibility of traffic wardens and devising a way out for their vehicle instead of waiting patiently, hence adopting the opposite lane and further worsening the jam by blocking the flow of traffic coming from the opposite direction. The other reason in this regard is the VIP movement. It is the primary reason for obstructing traffic flow, especially at peak hours. The traffic in Lahore can not bear the burden of VIP movements.

Furthermore, people’s behaviour on the roads and many other factors contribute to the mess. Then, Critics point towards a policy failure. The increase in vehicles on the road at an alarming rate shows that there is no functional public transport system in the city—widening existing roads and constructing new flyovers and underpasses may be helpful; however, the structural solutions of traffic regulation are critical. Yet, the increase in cars and other vehicles is swallowing it up. The situation remains the same, especially from 7:30 am to 9:30 am, 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm and 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm, the peak rush and traffic jam hours, daily except Sundays and a few extents on Saturdays. There is no proper instruction for commuters and pedestrians, and traffic sense does not prevail among road users. The absence of zebra crossing, footpaths and road signals is a significant hurdle to a smooth traffic flow where the footpaths available are encroached upon by shopkeepers and illegal parking mafia for motorcycle parking. Even the Lahore Parking Company has not delivered up to the mark.

The powerful and corrupt mafia also utilizes roads for illegal parking, whereas traffic police remain silent observers. Daily, many incidents are reported where people and the parking mafia fight for unlawful occupancy of roads for parking or highly charged parking fees if they are compelled to park there without a parking space by the local government.
Lahore is growing in all directions, and managing traffic is becoming a severe problem, as the expansion is not exactly as per the master plan of Lahore. Then, the master plan of the city 2050 was suspended by the Lahore High Court. The petitioners have raised tough questions on the environmental and expansion dynamics of the plan. Daily commuters from Sheikhupura, Kasur, and Gujranwala are also increasing, causing further pressure on the traffic system. Hence, proper planning, policy regulation, and implementation are critical to reducing road traffic congestion.

Smooth flow in lanes with strict implementation can enhance the flow of traffic. Then, it requires a civic sense of traffic and law implementation. There are short term, middle term and long-term plans are required. Lastly, urban and sprawling cities require modern planning and implementation. Even there is an Islamic administrative reference that if cities are unmanaged due to populations, they build and live in new cities. Therefore, it is not a bad idea to shift the capital of Punjab to another town or build a new one. It might relieve several administrative and unmanageable issues of the mighty city of Lahore.

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