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Lahoris purchase 400,000 new vehicles annually  

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City of 15 million people faces traffic mess as one of top problems 

By Syeda Maheen Zahra

LAHORE: A rapid increase in the city population with the current number count standing at 15 million blending to an annual addition of 400,000 new vehicles plying on metropolis roads, lack of traffic management and enforcement system add woes to the miseries of citizens.

According to the National Census 2023, the total population of Lahore stood at 15 million that has led to increased vehicle ownership and subsequent road congestion. As of 2011 there were 2.4 million registered vehicles in Lahore, which jumped to 6.3 million in a decade by 2021.

The vibrant capital of Punjab province faces significant challenges stemming from severe traffic congestion, impacting the daily lives of its residents, commuters and the city’s infrastructure.  Lahore grapples with traffic congestion characterized by congested roads, prolonged commute times, and frequent traffic jams, particularly during peak hours. Key road arteries like The Mall, Canal Road and Ring Road bear the brunt of heavy traffic due to a substantial volume of vehicles and insufficient infrastructure.

The rapid growth of Lahore’s population, which according to the National Census 2023 stood at 15 million, has led to increased vehicle ownership and subsequent road congestion. As of 2011 there were 2.4 million registered vehicles in Lahore, which jumped to 6.3 million in a decade by 2021.  

Secondly, inadequate public transport infrastructure, poorly-managed public transport system has contributed to reliance on private vehicles exacerbating the traffic issues. Also, there are insufficient traffic signals, lax enforcement of traffic laws and a lack of congestion management strategies, encroachments and unauthorized parking lots, especially use of sidewalks and other illegal parking, further constrict roadways and impede traffic flow.

Thirdly, the traffic mess also cause economic ramifications as this affect productivity losses, heightened fuel consumption, and increased transportation costs for businesses, while there are environmental impacts in the form of elevated vehicular emissions, which contribute to air pollution resulting in health hazards and environmental deterioration.

Also its social Impacts included prolonged commute times and stressful traffic conditions negatively affect residents’ quality of life, causing frustration, fatigue, and diminished well-being.

Experts believed that Lahoris’ traffic problem can be resolved by enhancing public transport, taking strict traffic management measures, proper urban planning, law enforcement and public awareness campaigns.

Investment in public transport infrastructure, such as metro bus systems, mass transit railways, and feeder bus services, to offer viable alternatives to private vehicles. Adopting intelligent traffic management systems, including synchronized traffic signals, real-time traffic monitoring, and congestion pricing schemes to enhance traffic flow and diminish congestion. Embracing integrated land-use planning strategies to curtail urban sprawl, promote mixed-use developments, and minimize the necessity for long-distance commuting will help resolve the issue.

Arisha Ashraf, a journalism student at Punjab university, said at every school with over 1000 enrolment number should ply its own bus service to control mess during peak hours.

“We see one big car drop and pick only one student, hence 500 cars to the same for 500 student causing excessive traffic around a school. There is a dire need to make new legislation to help control this problem,” she added.  

Another student namely Syeda Hiba Laraib, who travels daily from Valancia Housing to New Campus, Punjab University, said that goods transporters entrance to city arteries before their allocated time was another reason, which need to be addressed. “I see, almost on a daily basis, big trawlers loaded with vegetables, fruits, wheat and other stuff coming on the Pine Avenue from Raiwind side forcing the cars to cut down speed and even some times becoming a reason of accidents,” she remarked.

Reinforcing enforcement mechanisms, including strict penalties for traffic violations, heightened traffic policing, crackdowns on illegal parking and encroachments are some other solutions.

Furthermore, launching public awareness campaigns to advocate responsible driving behaviour, promote carpooling, and raise awareness about the environmental and social impacts of traffic congestion.

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