Road blockade at Marrir Chowk creates traffic mess
RAWALPINDI, Feb 23: The city witnessed gridlocks as Benazir Bhutto Road remained closed at Marrir Chowk after a heavy hydraulic rotary machine collapsed on the busy artery on Friday evening.
It may be noted that an underpass is being constructed at the busy Marrir Chowk and traffic bound for Saddar and Liaquat Bagh areas are using one side of Benazir Bhuttro Road at the junction.
The machine put on the middle of the road lost balance and fell on the side still open for the traffic and then overturned. Due to the heavy rain, it got stuck in the mud. Till filing of this report at 9pm on Saturday, the National Logistics Cell (NLC), the contractor of the project, and the Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA) had failed to clear the road.
Senior officials in both the organisations made conflicting claims. “A team has been called from Dubai to dismantle the machine and the work will be completed by late night to clear the road by Sunday morning,” said Brig Mohammad Shahid of the NLC while talking to Dawn.
On the other hand, Chaudhary Naseer Ahmed, the RDA director general, said the construction company – NLC – had invited experts from Lahore who would complete the work by Sunday afternoon.
“The contractor used the heavy machine weighing 80 tons during the rainy season which was a risky job when the traffic was on the road,” said a senior official of the city district government.
He said in order to complete the work within the stipulated time, the contractor did not stop the work in heavy rain on Friday..
“We had asked the NLC not to work on rainy days as it would be dangerous because the traffic was moving on the road and there would be chances of slip of the machine and land sliding,” said the RDA chief.
He said a few days back there was a land sliding near the railway track which was stopped by placing stone bags there. “The RDA asked the contractor to adopt safety measures. Thank God, the machine did not fall on the main railway track which is a few steps away otherwise the train service could have been stopped and the RDA would have to pay heavy penalty to the Pakistan Railway for damaging its track,” he said.
However, Brigadier Shahid of the NLC added: “No, it is not true as nobody wanted to put others in trouble. It was an accident. We wanted to complete the project on time so we continued working even on a rainy day. We have adopted all precautionary measures as the machine was having caterpillar tracks which provided maximum traction when driving through mud.”
He claimed that a passage would be provided to the traffic from Saddar to Islamabad by Sunday morning. There was very thin traffic on Saturday so the incident did not create problems for the people, he claimed.
However, the residents of the city suffered a lot as many of them remained stuck in the traffic for hours. Some ambulances were also seen in the traffic jam at Rashid Minshas Road and Kamran Market Chowk.
Mohammad Farooq, a government employee, who was stuck at Tipu Road for three hours in the morning, told Dawn that his mother was admitted to Holy Family Hospital in a serious condition. He said he wanted to reach the hospital to see his mother but remained stuck in the traffic jam for hours.
Farhan Siddiqui said motorists were facing problems since long due to the Punjab government’s ill-planned development works.
The traffic in the city has been chaotic for more than two months because of lack of coordination and planning by the RDA and its engineers, he said.
“The authorities concerned should resolve the traffic problems on an urgent basis,” said Mohammad Hassan, a commuter.
“Due to the traffic jams around the city, I reached my office three hours late,” said Hamza Khan, who lives at Tench Bhatta and works in Blue Area.