RAWALPINDI  - Encroachments are on the rise in Potohar Town as shopkeepers and vendors have occupied most of the footpaths and open spaces in the area, hampering traffic besides creating trouble for pedestrians.

The encroachers have set up their stalls at almost all main roads of the Town including Adiala Road, Dhamial Road, Chakri Road, Morgah, Misrial Road, Kotah Kalan and Dhama More.

In many areas the handcart bazaars have also been established. The encroachers have occupied both sides of several roads due to which the people are facing problems and the encroachments are creating difficulties in the smooth flow of over-loaded traffic in the area. Traffic jam is now a routine affair on all roads particularly during peak hours.

Chakri Road, which is nearly 120 feet wide, has been shrunk due to encroachments. About two kilometers area near Bisket Factory Chowk, which is a hub of workshops, vegetable and fruit merchants, restaurants, motor showrooms, building material godowns and other business activities is fully ruled by the encroachers.

Similarly, Adiala Road, Dhamial Road, Morgah and Kota Kalan are congested areas and need attention of authorities concerned as traffic jam for hours has become a routine matter on them. These localities are administratively under the control of TMA Potohar Town but it seems that its authorities are least interest to remove encroachments and have turned a blind eye to the problem.

Though, a number of anti-encroachment drives have been launched by the authorities concerned but the situation has never changed in the Town as encroachments surface soon after the operations.

The traffic mess on the road creates problems for the area residents and the motorists besides noise pollution.

Talking to APP, Faisal, a resident of Dhamial, said that the authorities concerned should launch a comprehensive drive to remove encroachments from the area which should be followed by strict monitoring to prevent resurfacing of the problem.

He said that the encroachers have occupied both sides of the road and left no space for car parking in the bazaar or even a walkway for the pedestrians. “The authorities should adopt an effective strategy and the officials concerned should pay surprise visits at different times in the day to remove the encroachments,” he said.

Arif, another resident of Adiala Road, said that apart from traffic jams they were also suffering from noise pollution. “The higher authorities should take notice of the negligence of department concerned,” he added.          

Goods displayed on the road and outside the shops must be confiscated and the encroachers should be imposed heavy fine as warnings and routine actions of anti-encroachment personnel have totally failed to remove the encroachments, he added.

The citizens urged the TMA authorities to take strict action against the shopkeepers, vendors and fruit and vegetable handcart owners that are creating hurdles in the smooth flow of traffic.

On the other hand, leading educational institutes have joined the land grabbers club by grabbing the service area of both sides of sixth road causing traffic jam and immense problems for the commuters especially parents, who come daily to pick and drop their children.

A leading school, Siddique Public School, Ideal Cambridge School and a leading chain of colleges Punjab College are in the fore front to grab service areas, constructed supposedly to provide solace to the parents as they can return home from the same service areas after picking or dropping their children. Punjab College has turned the service area into parking lot by parking motorbikes everywhere including on the footpath, thus making movement of the students and passerby impassible.

The closure of service areas adds traffic mess at sixth road roundabout where long queues of vehicles can be witnessed especially during peak morning hours almost all are parents who want to return home or rush to offices quickly after dropping their children are compelled to take a long U-turn that not only wastes their time but also consumes the most precious and unavailable Compressed Natural Gas (CNG). Security guards deployed at Siddique Public School did not allow commuters to even pass the service areas despite telling them that they have to drop a child in the same school.

The Guards do not allow to pass even during off-peak hours. They are doing this in the name of security. They must take protective measures but not at the price of parents and commuters.