Incessant gridlocks spark widespread agitation | The Express Tribune
Psychologists claim the predicament is impacting mental health
As the populace battles the agonizing repercussions of political discontent and economic downfall, a perpetual gridlock on roads across the port city, is adding fuel to the fire.
With the country at large is already undergoing a mental health crisis given the social chaos and anomie that follows phases of democratic decay and financial upheaval, worsening congestion on major, interlinking roads and highways across various parts of Karachi has exacerbated the psychological burden on the citizens, who struggle to channelize the anger and frustration that they experience as they tolerate wasting time in lengthy traffic blockages.
“Leaving the house has become a nuisance now,” complained Maria, a housewife, who resents the long periods of time she has to be stuck in traffic jams whilst running errands.
Associate Professor, Javed Akbar Dars, who is also the Lead Supervisor of the National Institute of Health’s Department of Child Psychology, understands Maria’s predicament. He was of the view that the weakened state of the economy means that many people have suffered a drop in their standard of living, as a result of which the overall level of frustration among the citizenry has spiked unprecedentedly.
“In such a situation where people are already on the verge of mental collapse, sitting in the car, and getting late while helplessly waiting for the traffic jam to abate, has become truly insufferable,” added Dars.
While occasional gridlocks are expected in urban centers with peaking populations, daily traffic bottlenecks indicate a larger problem vis a vis the way in which citizens utilize the roads and the diligence with which traffic regulatory bodies monitor their activities.
According to Dr Adnan Qadir, Head of the Department of Urban and Infrastructure Engineering at NED University, various factors including traffic encroachments on part of the citizens and deteriorated roads, sewage system failure, and malfunctioning signals on part of the concerned authorities, have all culminated in the pervasiveness of gridlocks across roads and highways in the economic hub.
Dr Qadir cites illegal parking alongside main roads and side lanes as a paramount cause behind the creation of the bottleneck on roads, which leads to a gridlock.
Furqan, a local, agreeing with Dr. Qadir, said “people regularly park their cars on the sides of roads. Earlier, there used to be just one line of parked cars on the road, but now there are almost two to three parallel lines.”
While some park their cars on the road, others run their business on the road sides, which further worsens the congestion. As Muhammad Asim, a resident involved in the car dealership business, confirmed, “you can easily spot countless small vendors setting up their kiosks on the roadside. The influx of their customers only adds to the obstruction that drivers have to manoeuvre through.”
An inquiry led by the Express Tribune, reported traffic encroachments at multiple locations in the city, including busy highways like Shahrah-e-Pakistan, MA Jinnah Road, Karimabad Chowrangi, Liaquatabad, and Sabzi Mandi.
Albeit some blame traffic encroachments for the unending gridlocks, others lambasted the traffic authorities whose inefficacy has intensified the honking on the roads. “A majority of the roads are uneven while others have stagnant sewage water on the sides,” resented Akhtar Siddiqui, a school bus driver.
Speaking to The Express Tribune on the matter, Shujaat Hussain, Municipal Commissioner of KMC, said, “we are aiming to curb illegal parking on the roads and are also planning to improve the sewage drainage system in the city.”
Published in The Express Tribune, March 19th, 2023.