D-8 summit: Traffic jams hit twin cities: Public holiday in Islamabad today
ISLAMABAD, Nov 21: “It was like going out of the frying pan into the fire when I decided to enter Islamabad from the I-8 sector side,” said Ghulam Ali, whose destination was G-6 sector.
Ghulam Ali is among hundreds of citizens who daily commute from Rawalpindi to Islamabad, and was caught unawares of the traffic plan put in place by the local police in connection with the arrival of heads of state and government to attend the two-day D-8 Summit starting today (Thursday).
Most of the commuters ended up on roads that had been closed to the traffic for VVIP movement.
The road coming from the airport and heading towards Murree Road from Faizabad has faced regular closure during VIP movements.
The long queue of vehicles starting from Faizabad went back as far as University of Arid Agriculture on Benazir Bhutto Road. Those trying to enter Islamabad from I-8 traffic signal witnessed a similar situation.
“It took me around one hour to travel a mere 200 metres to reach I-8 traffic signal,” Ghulam Ali said.
Amir Ahmed, another citizen, said he reached a crossing after the Rahimabad bridge in Rawalpindi in two hours.
“The entire area around airport has closed because of the movement of foreign dignitaries,” said Mr Ahmed, who was returning home after picking up his children from school on Wednesday afternoon.
Following massive traffic jams on Tuesday night and Wednesday, the authorities declared a holiday on Thursday to avoid further inconvenience to the citizens of the twin cities.
The decision was taken by Interior Minister Rehman Malik during a meeting held to review the security and traffic arrangements for the D-8 Summit.
All public and private educational institutions, offices of district administration as well as Pakistan Secretariat will remain closed.
However, offices and departments of ministries of foreign affairsand interior, chief commissioner and DC Office, Islamabad police, CDA, Iesco, the National Assembly and Senate Secretariat would remain open.
The special security arrangement made by Islamabad police now includes banning the entry of heavy traffic and loading vehicles into the city. Besides, general traffic movement in Red Zone has been restricted. Only authorised vehicles would be allowed to enter the Red Zone.
On Friday, Margalla Road from Trail III, Agha Khan Road from Ayub Chowk, Jinnah Avenue from Express Chowk and Fazal-i-Haq Road from Great Wall Chowk would be closed to traffic.
Similarly, traffic plying from G-6 to G-5 would not be allowed to enter Federal Lodges from Bazar Chowk. It would be diverted from Dhokri Chowk, Radio Pakistan Chowk, Bari Imam T junction and Shams Picket.
For gatherings related to Muharram, SSP traffic has been directed by IGP Bani Amin to ensure that parking lots are established far away from the processions with proper security arrangements.