LAHORE - Despite the Punjab government is splashing out a huge amount for cleansing, development, and beautification of the provincial capital, Clean Lahore is a far cry. Overhead pedestrian bridges have been occupied by beggars and junkies who use these bridges as lavatories.
Animal faeces can also be seen scattered on these pedestrian bridges and citizens are reluctant to use these bridges due to the stench.
The Punjab government has even hired highly-paid foreign consultants for applying modern cleaning technology but the poor departmental planning is draining funds away without any major results, Nation learnt on Thursday.
Because of such misuse, these bridges are losing their utility. Although the real objectives of constructing these bridges was to provide safe paths to the citizens for crossing roads, authorities are having hugely responsible for negligence and ignorance on their part as millions have been spent on the construction of these overhead bridges, reveals a survey conducted by this scribe.
Moreover, TEPA, LWMC, Public Facility Department and Engineering sections of the City District Government Lahore (CGDL) are equally responsible for the rapid destruction of these bridges by ignoring annual maintenance, routine cleaning and other essential steps.
Even though the CDGL had constructed a dozen of overhead pedestrian bridges at various points over busy roads, a number of road accidents have resulted in recent years,
Three bridges were constructed at Ferozepur Road; two at Jail Road; one at The Mall; two at Circular Road; one at Multan Road; one at Shahdara (Kot Shahab Din); and some on Canal Bank Road.
The survey further reveals that people are also unwilling to use these uphill ways even during the rush hours. They prefer to cross the roads through broken fences and iron grills, which were built by the CDGL for compelling them to use these very bridges.
Besides this defiance of citizens to the public safety measures, certain places under the bridges have been occupied and encroached by some influential in connivance with the CDGL officials. Shops and stalls of eatables, erected at these points, are even stretching on the roads which create problems in the traffic flow.
“The experiment of constructing overhead bridges in the city has failed and the government should construct underpasses for pedestrians. It will not only provide the citizens easy paths for crossing the roads but will also eliminate the beggars and addicts from these places. In this way, it would easy for the departments concerned to make these areas neat and clean,” opined Aftab, a resident of Ichra.
Naveed Ahmad, a shopkeeper of Naqi Market, has said that most of the citizens, especially old people and patients, avoid using these overhead bridges. “They think it as a hard thing to do but a waste of their time,” he said, adding that even though some of them had to face serious consequences while crossing the road directly.
Where beggars and junkies are to be blamed for the un-cleanliness and contamination, urinating at public places and spitting are citizens’ filthy contribution to the ‘not-so-clean’ Lahore. Some of them do not even care of other people’s presence around and use roadsides and walls as open toilets.
Muzzafar, man who was urinating beside a rail track near Lahore Railway Station, when asked about such wrongdoing, blamed the government and nature call at the same time.
“The government is responsible of this act of mine because there are no sufficient numbers of public toilets in most of the areas,” he added.
He said it was the responsibility of the government to have built maximum number of public toilets like other countries of the world, which would definitely have helped the government making city more neat and clean. He also suggested that these public toilets must be free of cost “because some persons avoid paying for using toilets.”
On the other hand, existing public lavatories are disappearing from the City rapidly, especially in the busiest areas. As per data collected from the Public Facility Department of CDGL, only 30 public toilets are functional in the city of around 12 million people. The survey further reveals that the conditions of such existing toilets are pathetic. It is near to impossible for a human to use these unhygienic waterless facilities.
Major public places like shopping malls, markets, bus stands and parks lack this facility. Consequently, visitors at public places are forced to off-load at ‘open toilets’ along walls inscribed with the instruction “Yahan paishaab karna mana hai” (It is forbidden to urinate here).
Those, who manage to keep their sanity, are on the look for a mosque. But women face problems as they don’t have any of these options.
Moreover, the number of public toilets in the City was decreasing in comparison with the ever-growing population.
A CDGL official informed this scribe that former City Nazim Mian Amir Mehmood had also planned to construct public toilets at vital intersections. In this regard, the administration had identified places at various commercial and public places for the purpose but the idea could not be materialised due to traditional slackness of our departments.
The officials of the Public Facility Department of CDGL told this scribe that they had identified 120 sites for the construction of new public toilets at different important locations and a proposal had been sent to Works and Communication department for approval. In this regard, the department had been working on a project of public toilets for several years and finally it marked some suitable sites for the purpose after a detailed survey of different intersections of the city, an official informed.
He said that the construction of such public toilets was the topmost priority of the department, adding that a summery had been sent to the departments concerned (C&W) which failed to get approval from such department even after passing a couple of years. However, the DO PFD was not available for his comments.