LAHORE – The under-construction Rapid Bus Transit Project in City may solve the traffic problem to the extent of Ferozepur Road, but it will hit hard the major wholesale markets as well as the traffic on both sides of the Ravi Road, as a result the merchants of Timber Market - the most affected area - is thinking of shifting their businesses somewhere else.

The Timber Market Traders Group, located on Ravi Road, has appreciated the Rapid Bus Transit Project, but severely criticised the addition of new lane in the middle of the road instead of original plan of erection of flyover, maintaining that the business would be highly affected when the service lane is made part of the main road.

The Timber Market Traders Group general secretary Ammad Azam Butt told TheNation that the traders of the both sides of Ravi Road want execution of the project as par original plan of making flyover from Data Darbar to Ravi Bridge.

He said that it is the oldest plan of the city and several governments wished to execute the plan but it was shelved due to unknown reasons. He pointed out that in every plan it was clear that part of any rapid transportation project would be run on the flyover from Ravi Bridge to Data Darbar Chowk. But now the Punjab government after making amendments, has changed the plan and constructing a new lane instead of building flyover while most of the Rapid Bus Transit Project is on flyover.

He said that apparently the Ravi Road looks so wide but actually the service lane are used for luggage transportation as the service lanes cover the provincial capital’s major and busiest markets. The markets included Timber Market, truck stand, Badami Bagh fruit market, Shah Alam Market, Moti Bazar, Azam Cloth Market, Akbari Mandi, Namak Mandi, Loha Market, Brandrath Road, Chamra Mandi, Circular Road. Ammad Butt said that the whole Ravi Road is the hub of goods transport, as there exists several terminals of goods transport.

He said that construction of new lane and elimination of service road will lead to traffic mess on both sides of the Ravi Road as due to several major wholesale markets all process of loading and unloading is done on this service lane. He said that this service road also works as a parking area for timber as well as many other markets and after inclusion of service lane in main road, the residents and traders of the area will also be deprived of parking area.

The Timber Market information secretary Malik Server Awan believed that provision of proper parking lots for their customers could save them from total annihilation; as they could not continue to earn their livelihood in this situation.

He, on behalf of the area resdients and traders, whose shops are located on both sides of the road, has demanded of the Punjab government to execute the RBTS project as par original plan of constructing flyover, fearing that otherwise their businesses would be closed down forever.

“We are suffering for the past several months because all access points to our market have been barricaded and the traffic has been diverted to other roads. As a result, not a single customer has visited the markets on both sides of the Ravi Road,” he added.

He regretted that no association of traders, the real stakeholders whose lands may be acquired in future, was consulted before the construction of new lane.