For an exhausted student returning home after a long day at school, having to wait indefinitely in a gridlock is nothing short of a nightmare, however, as countless unregistered vehicles block Peshawar’s roads leading to daily traffic jams, the dreaded imagining is a familiar reality for schoolchildren in the northern-province.
For instance, Huzaifa, a Grade 9 student from Peshawar’s inner city, has to wait at least an hour and a half in a traffic jam every day before finally reaching home after school. “The Grand Trunk (GT) Road is overflowing with unregistered rickshaws from Chamkani to Hayatabad throughout the week,” said Huzaifa, who has to spend almost three times more time travelling back home.
On the other hand, Adil Khan, a businessman from the Mina Bazaar area in Peshawar, reported a drop in his sales since people could not access the market due to the gridlocks on the roads. “The roads outside shops selling women’s clothing are burgeoning with unregistered rickshaws which block the flow of traffic, preventing customers from visiting our shops,” claimed Khan.
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According to information received by The Express Tribune, apart from substandard road engineering, a lack of flyovers and poorly executed U-turns, a major reason behind Peshawar’s chaotic traffic is the growing abundance of unregistered rickshaws at every nook and corner of the city.
As per statistics received from the Excise and Transport Department, out of 500,000 taxis, cars, loaders, jeeps, ambulances, buses, wagons and rickshaws entering and exiting Peshawar on a daily basis, 150,000 rickshaws and 15,000 taxis are operating without registration.
The problem has been exacerbated by the police, which in using the powers of the Federal Customs Department, Provincial Excise Department and Transport Department, has started giving temporary registrations to rickshaws, due to which rickshaws which earlier did not operate in areas including Sadar, Gulbahar, GT Road, University Road, and Dalazak Road have now started roaming around every market.
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In his defense, the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Operations Peshawar, Kashif Aftab Abbasi maintained that the law-and-order situation was such that keeping a temporary record of rickshaws, was crucial. “There have been cases where rickshaws were used by criminals for terrorist activities. Therefore, we have to temporarily register rickshaws at the police station level in order to keep a record of the rickshaws and their drivers,” asserted Abbasi.
Recently, the police started collecting records of unregistered rickshaws in collaboration with the Excise Department at the Hayatabad and West police stations, before issuing temporary registration numbers for a fee of Rs1400, leading to an increase in the number of rickshaws causing traffic jams.
Speaking to The Express Tribune on the matter, the SSP Traffic Peshawar, Qamar Hayat, said, “The main obstacles facing traffic control in the city are the presence of road encroachments, and the absence of parking plazas.”
Published in The Express Tribune, October 26th2023.