LAHORE – At least half of the City’s traffic problems could be solved with better traffic management, said Prof Akhtar Khan, a chartered town planner and Fellow Royal Town Planning Institute (FRTPI) London, while talking to TheNation.

“How could traffic management schemes be formulated without any traffic or highway engineers working with TEPA, LDA or City Traffic Police? It also amazes me how LDA deals with large/commercial planning applications without the highway engineer’s comments and recommendations,” he said.

“Why we had to go to Turkey to find a solution to our traffic problem? Do you know that they drive on the right hand of the road, while we do on the left? The two countries’ traffic problems are completely different and so are their solutions, which actually require knowledge about town planning,” Akhtar Khan added.

He said people should be made to follow traffic lines and lanes, at least on main roads. “People have no patience, they always seem to be to be in a hurry and jump out of queues whenever they have a chance.” He said motorcycles and rickshaws were the worst. People keep coming and blocking the incoming traffic from the other direction, creating gridlocks, which then take hours to clear.

Prof Akhtar said people think they won’t be caught if they broke rules – like moving in opposite direction on one ways, parking at wrong places, or stopping in the middle of the roads to purchase fruit or to wait for passengers, in case of public transport vehicles. Also, most of those who work as drivers come from villages, so they are uneducated and particularly ignorant about traffic rules, he added.

He advised that no vehicle without lights or having poor breaks or any other fault should be allowed on roads. “Can’t we implement this simple rule? Then, we should introduce point system on the driving licences to punish the offenders according to the nature and frequency of rules violations, and cancel the licences of habitual violators.”

“The city desperately needs a proper policy on parking and commercial building as in our cities every road frontage becomes a commercial premises, limiting the road space and creating traffic problems. Our big cities have grown too large and we need short and long-term, paid and free parking areas. All short-term parking areas should be properly marked so that people are aware of parking angles and spaces.”

Mr Akhtar said ‘mini roundabouts’ should be introduced on all small junctions as these are working very successfully in the UK. They avoid traffic chaos and gridlocks.

 “We also need to improve the traffic signs and bring them at par with the international standards by increasing sizes of letters and using more suitable colours.

Many of the signs on the Canal Bank Road need improvement; they are long worded and confusing. Junction’s names should be repeated a few times so the drivers are aware of what is to come ahead and have ample time to take decision.”

He said as in the developed world, “we should improve the use of telephone system and most of the work should be done on the phone. I know our people are not used to this; they always want to be there personally”.