Rawalpindi being a garrison city during British Raj was divided in two basic quarters the military town and the native. Raja Bazaar area comes within the native town precincts and hence had a more medieval and organic growth pattern. Over the years Raja Bazaar has become part and parcel of the economic life of both Rawalpindi and Islamabad. Located off Benazir Bhutto Road formally Murree Road, its importance is embedded within its location itself. With garrison town located in close vicinity, Islamabad directly connected through Murree Road, Major civilian institutions in immediate surroundings, Raja Bazaar has grown from a small market to a major commercial outlet.
The research has been initiated to look into the traffic dynamics and its impact on the surrounding environs within Raja Bazaar area. Through observations and newspaper clippings collected over a period of two years it was gathered that traffic related trepidation were becoming a regular feature. Urban Resource Centre, hence decided to gather details of the issue and prepare a preliminary fact finding report. To formulate such a document teams were sent into the field to obtain qualitative and quantitative data. The data gathered was divided into following categories:
• Historical Development of the City
• Government Agencies
• Stakeholder Views
• Land Use
• Traffic Flow Survey
The teams were trained in documenting visual data, qualitative data and quantitative data. Although it was observed that access to government offices was readily available, but the authorities showed their inability to provide the teams with documents for confidentiality reasons. Visits to sites and interviews conducted with prominent citizens and citizen bodies were also accessible. The methodology adopted for information gathering from stakeholders was primarily qualitative.
Land use maps were prepared on first hand basis and a graphic representation of different types of uses with the Raja Bazaar precincts is presented at Annexure A. Maps prepared included heritage plan of the area (Annexure B), road encroachment plan (Annexure C), traffic flow pattern plan (Annexure D).
Traffic Flow survey was carried out on week days and weekends over a period of two weeks in August. This survey is the source of primary data on traffic volume entering and leaving Raja Bazaar’s main arteries.
Fundamental notion of the research was to understand the traffic flow dynamics of Raja Bazaar’s main arteries and the reasons for frequent clogging of both primary and secondary routes.
History of Rawalpindi
The history of Rawalpindi dates back to the time when a member of the Ghakkar tribe, Jhanda Khan named an area Rawalpindi. In 1765, the Sikhs took over this area and Malka Singh became the administrator of Rawalpindi and established his headquarters there , The Sikhs ruled this area for a long period of time but finally had to surrender to the British in 1849 and Rawalpindi became a permanent cantonment of the British army in 1851. It was around 1881 that the railway line to Rawalpindi was laid. The train service was formally inaugurated on January 1, 1886. The need for having railway link arose after Lord Dalhousie made Rawalpindi the headquarters of the Northern Command. And, Rawalpindi became the largest cantonment in the South Asia and during the same time Murree was named the summer headquarter of British Governor of Punjab. Rawalpindi gained significance as passage to Murree had to be through Rawalpindi. The Municipality of Rawalpindi was first constituted in 1867 . In 1901, the foundation for the Jamia Masjid was laid by Ayub Khan, the Prince of Kabul . From 1901 – 1947 Chaklala Cantonment was established. In 1924, the Cantonment Board was established. In 1947, Rawalpindi was declared the Army Headquarters. In 1959 the plans for making Islamabad the new Capital had begun and thus in 1960 Rawalpindi was declared as the Interim Capital and government offices in Karachi were shifted to Rawalpindi .
Physical Expansion of Rawalpindi
As Rawalpindi was declared as the headquarters for the Northern Command during the colonial era, the need for a railway line was deemed essential for the movement of troops. This became a major factor for the city’s development. The railway line reached Rawalpindi in 1879. The railway line and Lai Nulleh divided the cantonment and the city . Up to 1900 the city grew with the establishment of the cantonment but there was little development to the areas on western side of the Lai Nulleh. At the time of independence, the influx of refugees and the declaration of Rawalpindi as Army Headquarters brought in more economic activity and growth. To solve the problem of the refugees, the Satellite Town Scheme was planned by the Government of Punjab in 1953, thereby extending the city to the north. In 1960 when Rawalpindi was declared as the Interim Capital it had great consequences for the development of the city. At one hand the economic activities increased and at the other, there was an acute shortage of housing. There were huge investments by the public and private sector. To meet the requirements, the development was rapid but it lacked planning, which resulted in the creation of slums beyond Satellite Town up to Islamabad Highway and beyond Lai Nulleh up to Pirwadhai Road . During the 1968–1996 period, the development of the city got maximum momentum. The land-use conversion from residential to commercial, rapidly took place during this period. The residential areas along Circular Road, Jamia Masjid Road, Iqbal Road, Asghar Mall Road, Saidpur Road and Raja Bazaar have been converted into commercial use. During the 1970-1996 period, areas like Allahbad, Naseerabad, Dhok Mustaqeem, Afshan Colony, Gulistan Colony and Jhanda Colony developed. Dhok Kala Khan, Dhok Paracha and Dhok Kashimirian were also developed .
With the railway line laid in Rawalpindi in 1879, the population of the city increased. Mr. Steedman wrote as follows in the district report on the census of 1881 regarding the increase of population:
“The population of Rawalpindi has increased from 19,228 to 25,442 or by 32 percent…the number of the inhabitants has very nearly trebled. The increase is greatest in males. It is a well-known fact that the growth of the cantonment has been by leaps and bounds of late, but in the population entered there must be a large temporary element. At the time of census there were great numbers of Commissariat employees stationed at Rawalpindi, to mention one source. The opening of the railway and the presence of a large body of Railway officials and employees is another source.”
During the period of 1901-1911 there is not a significant change in the population which could be due to the spread of plague and cholera. However 55 percent increase was registered during the 1931-41 period, which could be due to the prevailing conditions on account of Hijrat Movement, Rawalpindi as its base. The growth rate was 28.2 percent in the 1941-51 period. This could be attributed to the large bulk of refugees that were pouring in the city at the time of independence and Rawalpindi becoming the Army Headquarters. However, the highest growth rate for this city has been 80.73 percent during 1961-72, as it was in this period that Rawalpindi was declared as the interim capital which attracted people from various parts of the country. A decline was seen in the growth rate during 1972-81 due to the shifting of government offices and employees to Islamabad. This trend continued till the first half of the 1981-1991 but by the second half of the decade, the population of Rawalpindi increased as Islamabad reached saturation.
The Raja Bazaar is surrounded by six populous commercial roads i.e. Liaqat Road, City Saddar Road (Jinnah Road), Kashmiri Bazaar/Ratta Road, Ganj Mandi Road, Raja Bazaar and Iqbal Road. The cross section of Fawara Chowk is not only inter-section but also playing the role of a terminal station for wagons, passenger vans, private cars, taxis and auto rickshaws. The Bazaars have developed without following any city plan and thus the area of Raja Bazaar is composed of two different land usages such as commercial use and residential use which is creating road congestion, traffic hazards and environmental problems as well. The reason for this is the concentration of commercial activity, which caused traffic problems, poor accessibility due to encroachments on roads and footpaths and the presence of vendors and hawkers.
Field visits carried out within the Raja Bazaar precincts outlined five major parameters. These were evolved after correlating the results obtained from the five teams working on the five data sets as mentioned in the methodology section. The five data sets yielded the following five parameters:
1. Land Use
3. Human Resource
4. Traffic Pattern
5. Auxiliary Service
Rawalpindi is one of the fastest growing cities in Punjab. According to the Master Plan 1968, the commercial activities were concentrated in the central parts of the city, however during the previous decades land use conversion of residential to commercial has taken place. Raja Bazaar is a great example of this rapid change.
DG RDA gave a rough land use estimate of the Raja Bazaar as;
• People on cars 20%
• Public Transport 40%
• Pedestrians 40%
The affects of land use change on the dynamics of Raja Bazaar are visible from following interviews conducted during research phase:
Javeed Ahmed, Four Brothers Hotel Main Raja Bazaar: As it is clear that Raja Bazaar is a commercial area, businessmen and retail purchasers visit Raja Bazaar regularly. They travel from a far therefore stay in hotels located within Raja Bazaar. Hotels have good business there but they are facing problems due to traffic.
President of Union, Abdul Qadir Butt: One of the busy areas in Raja Bazaar is Sabzi Mandi. Actually there in no proper Vegetable market within this area, in fact the area comprises of different types of shops but there is a chabri group which deal in vegetable.
Syed Sajad Shah: In Qasai Street there are 8 to 10 houses that belong to Shah family. They are living in very congested area so that’s why they can’t think of owning personal vehicle. Most of the time visitors and shopkeepers park their vehicles and it becomes difficult to walk on street. He suggested that there should be a particular area declared by TMA as residential area. It is difficult to live in the centre of the commercial area so that’s why we are thinking of migrating from here.
And although the land use is rapidly changing from residential to commercial, little is done on account of this. This land use change as is visible from above is triggered by market forces, Raja Bazaar has become one of the major centres of retail and wholesale activities. Over the years warehousing activities are also taking over residential areas and forcing people to move to other areas. With increasing fuel prices, businessmen prefer having their storage facilities near their outlets. Although they seem less inclined towards environmental effects and are not willing to spend in altering their structures for this new need.
Qadar Meer (Businessman): Shop owners have shown little interest regarding parking problem because they are getting high rent and are not facing traffic problem directly. Those who have their own business they are facing parking issue. When asked, why they do not use ground floor or basement as car parking? Their reply was ‘we can’t use it because it’s impossible for us to spend millions of rupees to make alteration’. They also blame development authorities because they do not guide them or provide them with any plan at the time of construction. Mr. Qadeer was of the view that ‘if we spend million of rupees for car parking then still we will be unable to widen the road width. We will face the problem due to narrow streets and encroachments.
Although by-laws are available from the government even then planning regulations are being violated and the onus is being laid on the government. Government is to be blamed in this regard too for not inspecting the new construction but as the above statement is suggestive that people should be provided with plans, that is entirely the responsibility of civilians and following city by-laws which clearly mentions provision of car parking lies both on the owner and contractor.
Muhammad Shakeel (Consumer): Everything is available in Islamabad but we visit Raja Bazaar for shopping because it is economical as compared to Islamabad. Almost everyone considers Raja Bazaar as first choice for shopping hence it gets congested. For the last 10 years, I am engaged in cosmetics business in my hometown and I must visit Raja Bazaar every 15 days.
City Nazim: The City Nazim also pointed out that because of the large concentration of mandis; Raja Bazaar is getting traffic congestion. He suggested that they should be shifted to Turnol so that the traffic could be divided. The Mandis in Raja Bazaar include Namak Mandi and Ganj Mandi.
According to the Nazim the new provincial government is showing resistance for any new development by not allowing any new funds for the development. He further added that TMA has a budget of Rs.170 million for the development projects in Rawalpindi city but the government is not allowing use of the funds at the moment. Permission for any new development plan has to be taken from the Chief Minister directly and local government is not allowed to act on its own.
In the end of the interview Nazim also blamed the people for lacking any civic sense for not taking care of their city and feared that inculcating civic duties or manners in the public would be a difficult task. He mentioned that his office doors are open for everyone and the civilians can approach him anytime to discuss their problems with him.
The City Nazim (Mayor) has surmised the issues of land use in Raja Bazaar area comprehensively; his suggestion of mandis to outskirts of Rawalpindi is a means of easing out pressure from downtown areas. But again it seems that local people are blocking this initiative for their personal gains. The land use issue of Raja Bazaar is closely related to traffic management and without addressing this, it would not be viable to tackle traffic issues within the area.
Most of the encroachment within Raja Bazaar is of movable nature and this is visible from the photographs taken on a working day and on a public holiday. Therefore it can be deduced that the activities generated through land use are responsible for encroachment in the area. Main encroachments that were found are of
• Public transport terminus
• Private transport parking
• Shop extensions
• Street vendor
• Cart vendors
From DG RDA data of vehicular traffic, public transport comprises around 70% and takes both the available parking space and footpaths for parking their vehicles. Ad hoc terminals have also cropped up within the market and further deteriorate the traffic issue. From the interviews it was found that 80% of their business is in Raja Bazaar, and no time schedule is followed. Since public transport is mostly in private hands and government does not seem to have a writ over them, no time schedule is available nor is the quality of transport service checked.
Ajab Gul: About parking issues he said there is no proper regulation by TMA. Every year TMA renews the lease of Suzuki Adda but they do not regulate or develop it. They just collect money from us through lease. There is no parking time enforcement; a vehicle may stay in the Adda (terminal) for an entire day. This practice is adopted by shop keepers mostly.
It seems that the spaces created by government to cater to public transporters have been misused. What the people call as Adda are most probably bus stations where transporters are allowed to pick and drop their passengers have instead turned into terminus.
Khalil Ahmed: They are using 6 feet footpath in main Raja Bazaar for Suzuki stand and Toyota Hiace stand. They do not have separate stand but they have to pay to TMA through local lease holder.
Syed Sajad: They have no separate parking stand in Raja Bazaar but are allowed by SP to visit Raja Bazaar although the vehicles are not allowed to stay here for more than 5 minutes. But they park their buses on the main road for at least 30 minutes because they are getting 80% passengers from Raja Bazaar. There is no time schedule for the buses.
The nature of transport is also important. In Rawalpindi mostly Suzuki carrier vans (Maximum capacity of 9) and Toyota Hiace (which has a maximum capacity of 15 people) are in use. Rarely one encounters proper buses. One of the reasons may be the manoeuvrability of large vehicles on a congested road. But a large number of these small vehicles are needed to cater to the demands of Raja Bazaar, and on top of it, their demand for parking within the same area till their vehicle has been completely filled, is another reason for traffic congestion.
Javeed Ahmed, Four Brothers Hotel Main Raja Bazaar: Corruption in TMA’s lower staff is prevalent as they obtain bribe through different means therefore allowing encroachments. There is no management and regulation of parking place and Suzuki Addas
President of Union, Abdul Qadir Butt: Our road width is narrow as compared to other roads of Raja Bazaar which are 70 feet whereas our road width is 25 feet and when customers come for purchasing, they park their vehicle on the road. Due to this it creates a mess on road.
Afzal Ahmed: I have never seen safe parking place for visitors. Government authorities are not doing their job honestly and that is the reason this problem is becoming more dangerous.
General Shops Union: There was a parking problem but government allowed 3.5 feet extra space on road in front of our
shops through the efforts of Qadar Meer. We increased the provided space one foot further on our own and when authority comes for inspection we remove our goods, at times they catch
us and we get fined. .
Cart-vendor Anwar: We park our carts on the road and pay Rs. 1,500 to the authority. When they have been instructed by higher authority, they do not allow us to park on the road.
Interviews from locals and visitors seem to show that authority is aware of the problem but its lower staff members are milking the situation through bribery. Although hand carts and other slow moving traffic is banned from entering the area yet a large number of these are plying on the road. Presence of traffic wardens is visible but still cars are getting parked in no parking zone.
City Nazim Sheikh Rashid Shafique: Another reason he highlighted was that people who have encroachments in Raja Bazaar area are very poor and the government cannot force them to move from the area immediately, and the staff appointed to take care of the matter has played their part by doing corruption and therefore these encroachments could not be removed. He also told in confidence that his own lower staff is not performing their duties as expected and he doubts them for corruption.
The newly installed traffic system of Rawalpindi has divided the city into nine sub-sectors, with a total number of 1320 freshly recruited Traffic Wardens. The prominent element of these Traffic Wardens is that they all are holding bachelors degree. DSP Raib Nawaz is commanding the Raja Bazaar sector supported by 300 Traffic Wardens. It is also on leave record that on average 25 Wardens remained on leave per day. The job description of these Traffic Wardens is to keep continue the flow of traffic. They also are authoritative to challan any one for being violating the traffic laws. On average 70 challans used to register by each sector each day.
Raja Bazaar is one of the oldest and busiest trading centres of Rawalpindi. It is near Fawara Chowk, which is an intersection of 6 roads coming from various commercial centres. Raja Bazaar therefore faces a severe parking problem leading to traffic hazards.
Ajab Gul: He said that new police is good but they are inexperienced. Inexperienced means they are full of manners and more polite that’s why people do not notice them and do not obey their instructions but previous police was cruel and harsh so most of the drivers were following their instructions due to fear.
Khalil Ahmed: About new police they are satisfied and said its first time in Pindi police history because bribery is almost eliminated.
It seems public views are contradictory in terms of new traffic wardens. What seems to be a positive change in Police attitude is looked upon as its main weakness. In this regard it’s the citizens’ attitude that needs to be changed and for this regulations that would protect police officials in terms of citizen attitude may be needed.
Traffic congestion and frequent clogging of main arteries was observed during weekdays and to understand the effects of these traffic issues, interviews were conducted within the area.
Ajab Gul: There are 12 different Suzuki routes in Raja Bazaar and every route is organized and regulated by Adda Munshi.
Khalil Ahmed: About 130 Toyota Hiace vans ply on two routes in Raja Bazaar, routes # 5 and #3. Many drivers and van owners also viewed their concerns about parking problem… Before 5 years they were completing a single trip in 1:15 hour but due to increase in traffic volume and congestion, time needed for a single trip has increased to 2 hours.
Syed Sajad: When Varan Transport was banned, no heavy traffic was allowed in Raja Bazaar. Sometime before District Nazim Rawalpindi Tariq Kiani inaugurated the CNG public bus service. There are 6 buses on the route but one bus is not working. During a visit to CNG bus office near Gordon College, concerned person said due to the road side parking it is difficult for heavy traffic to make any turn in main Raja Bazaar due to road side parking and slow moving traffic, he said some people are against heavy traffic but they do not know 1 bus can replace 4 vans.
President of Union Sheikh Mohammad Hussain: Here heavy vehicles are not allowed, motor bikes are allowed for shopkeepers. Most of our customers are pedestrians and this is due to the traffic mess. Shopkeepers park their bikes in the mid of the road.
It is observed that most of the interviewees are concerned about the number of public transport plying on Raja Bazaar routes. Apart from the Bazaar area being a commercial centre it appears to have become ad hoc terminus as well over the years. It is also important to mention at this point that there are more than 6,500 auto rickshaws and ching chi rickshaws (Chinese rickshaws), more than 3,000 pick-ups, more than 3,500 mini buses, Hiace wagons and about thousand taxis plying on city roads .
According to City Nazim Sheikh Rashid Shafique’s perception the reason for traffic problems in Rawalpindi is that old roads have been improved several times but no new routes have been made to disperse the traffic flow. Although some new routes have been designed but they have not curbed the traffic inside the city as their main purpose seems to be for entering the city. As for Raja Bazaar the Nazim is of the view that efforts made by city government are thwarted by the residents of Raja Bazaar themselves It has been further told by the Nazim that temporary dividers were placed in Raja Bazaar to keep the flow of traffic continue but these dividers were taken off by retailers themselves in order to facilitate the distributors, because they had to take the U-turn and then reach the retail outlet to drop the distributions. Also some of the changes brought in by the government to control the traffic problems are that TMA has stopped issuing licenses to Tonga and Cart owners, but if they are still seen violating the new rules, order is to fine them for Rs.500-1,000 and then break their carts. Heavily loaded trucks are allowed only after 9pm and if they break the rules they are heavily fined. The City Nazim also mentioned that the new law is to move back property by 10 ft so that the existing roads can be expanded.
Further evidence of traffic flow problem was obtained from the traffic survey conducted by URC team. It showed the number of vehicles plying in Raja Bazaar main arteries and through this it is possible to envisage the traffic flow pattern.
Public in Raja Bazaar is also facing traffic problems due to development work undergoing in the area. Under most circumstances it seems more of administrative issue. The ongoing Nala project is met with delays and therefore accessibility has been the victim.
Rafique Qureshi (Bussinessman):- At the time of field survey people of Mochi Bazaar were facing problem of a Nala undergoing repairs by government authorities. Everyone is talking about it and seems that they have forgotten all other problems like traffic. It is a huge nala which was dug up and repairs are ongoing. That nala is 8 feet wide and due to excavation the rain water stagnates and flow of traffic has been hampered.
Also demand for a taxi stand (with sufficient space) is also on the cards. It is although difficult to estimate the term ‘sufficient space’ for the public and particularly taxi drivers seem be of the view that they all should reap the benefits. In urban planning or designing taxi stands, bus stands and other transport facilities work round the clock on rotation system. It has been observed in most parts of Rawalpindi that taxi and public transporters do not adhere to such system and there is a speculation that over provision may lead to conversion of vicinity areas into support services that would further deteriorate the environment.
Muhammad Naveed (Taxi Driver): There is no taxi union in Raja Bazaar. There is a demand for taxi stand in the area. The reason being the number of people coming to the area. In 2003 there was taxi union and they had tried and struggled for taxi stand.
According to the survey conducted a decade ago by the government it was observed that 3554 vehicles are parked on the roadside, out of which 1,477 vehicles are parked during morning hours and the remaining 2,077 in the afternoon. According to statistics of Motor Vehicle Registration Authority Rawalpindi, 51,905 vehicles have been registered during the year Jan 2007- Jul 2008(annex). In the month of July 2008, 3,805 vehicles had been registered. So it can be reported that on average 123 vehicles are registering in Rawalpindi city per day. Summary report is as under;
Type of Vehicle Vehicles Registered during July-2008 Vehicles registered from jan-2007 to july-2008
Diesel 162 2,105
Petrol 3,148 41,391
Petrol and CNG 495 8,409
Grand Total 3,805 51,905
There are three Government institutions which are directly and indirectly related to the traffic plan of Rawalpindi city i.e. RDA, TMA and Traffic Police.
Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA)
Rawalpindi Development Authority’s main task is to formulate a comprehensive system of metropolitan planning and development in order to improve the quality of life in the metropolitan area of Rawalpindi. It works an integrated metropolitan and regional development approach and a continuing process of planning and development, to ensure optimum utilization of resources, economical and effective utilization of land.
Plan of RDA
DG, RDA Muqeem Shahbaz plans to build a multi-story parking plaza for the Bazaar. He took charge of his office in April’ 08and till date has managed to get an approval of the Rs. 90 million budget for the plaza. The plan does not envisage any road widening in Raja Bazaar Area. But the plan includes making the Bazaar one-way. However no details were mentioned for its implementation.
Chief Architect of the plan Mr. Shujja delivered some specifications of the proposed idea. The expected site of the parking plaza shall run adjacent to Fawara Chowk that connects to Raja Bazaar. The expected area of the plaza would be approximately 2 million square feet. Currently the Suzuki stand is operational in the surrounding area of Fawara Chowk. With the initial budget, construction of a two-story plaza is expected with ground floor strictly reserved for the Suzukis. The construction inauguration was anticipated for August 14 of the current year and its due date for completion is six months. For more clarity a copy of the map was requested but was denied due to privacy issues. However the map was shown to the team.
Architect Shujja himself looked annoyed at places when it took him years to convince non-technical bosses about the implication of any developmental plan. Now the test lies with DG RDA who takes ample pride in his developmental vision to improve the traffic system of Raja Bazaar.
Although DG RDA thoroughly believes that half of the traffic management can be done through traffic sense that needs to be imparted to the stakeholders. However there is no policy of coordination with police institution to impart the traffic sense to public.
The traffic warden system has been introduced in Rawalpindi to improve present traffic system and to facilitate citizens and commuters. There were many expectations associated from these wardens but since their deployment, nothing has changed immensely. The masses can observe traffic wardens on each cross-section but they have not been able to bring any visible improvement in traffic system. DSP Rab Nawaz tactfully saved himself by not providing the true picture of miss-managed traffic scene of Raja Bazaar. However there is a huge lack of communication and coordination among the government agencies that the traffic high-ups do not even know the plan of RDA to build parking plaza in Raja Bazaar.
RDA has not had a very fruitful past due to the decision makers and high ups. It has been termed useless by DG himself and also by the City Nazim that the Murree Road underpass was not a well-thought project and has not been able to solve the traffic problems. Muqeem Shabaz wants to move RDA on a track that operates with various NGO’s as its developmental arms.
The City Nazim Rawalpindi showed persistence on criticizing the new government, which has stepped in only a few months earlier and praised the previous regime. The Nazim blamed the people for lacking civic sense for not taking care of their city and feared that inculcating civic duties or manners in the public would be a difficult task. However he was humble to accept that corruption at lower levels also leads to mismanagement of government responsibilities.
Town Municipal Administration (TMA)
In every town in a City District, there is a Town Municipal Administration (TMA), which is a body corporate and consists of a Town Nazim, Town Municipal Officer, Town Officers and other officers of the Local Council Service and officials of the offices entrusted to the TMA. The TMA is responsible for spatial planning (land use planning and zoning), development facilitation/control (site development and building control) and municipal services (water, sanitation, solid waste, roads and streets, street lights, graveyards, fire fighting, traffic engineering, abattoirs, parks and open spaces) in a town of the City District, except those functions which for technical or other reasons are retained with the City District Government. The TMA is responsible for planning, capital investments and operation and maintenance of municipal services.
Traffic Plan of Rawalpindi City
The new traffic system is being introduced in major cities of Punjab with an objective to improve present traffic system and provide quality services to the citizens and commuters. More than 1,200 traffic wardens are planned to take charge of traffic management in Rawalpindi City. Traffic Warden System is made to be operational in the city cantonment area and municipal limits of Murree to control and regulate traffic flow.
Observations from field research highlighted three major areas of intervention which are;
1. Land use change from residential to commercial
2. Movable encroachments
3. Traffic management.
Most of the land in Raja Bazaar at the moment is undergoing change, over the years wholesale activity has replaced retail outlets and now in support of wholesale commercial markets warehousing has taken its footing. Warehousing has forced people to move out of the area and the residential space left has turned into godowns and storage units. This attracts heavy vehicles within the narrow lanes of Raja Bazaar and where the size of lane does not permit, slow moving vehicles, are in use.
The land use change has further attracted a huge number of people from both Rawalpindi and Islamabad. Before partition, Raja Bazaar was supporting the garrison town but with the development of new capital and commercialization of Murree Road it has to cater to the growing demands of population - both individual consumers and business. Increase in the number of consumers attracted vendors to the area. They run their business by encroaching the footpaths. On the other hand private cars and to a large extent public transport is occupying the main roads and by lanes of the Bazaar. Therefore it is visible that Raja Bazaar’s encroachment is mostly movable and is dependent on the land use of the area. Although proposal has been suggested by the City Nazim regarding moving the wholesale markets to the periphery of Rawalpindi but business owners are not accepting this proposal. It would be viable to understand their views in this regard for the business owners, as from the qualitative study, are complaining of traffic congestion.
Since the land use has changed drastically from residential to commercial a large number of commuters come to Raja Bazaar and encourage both private and public transport to consolidate itself in Raja Bazaar. Due to unavailability of any time schedule and lack of implementing authority, encroachment on main roads is mostly due to the formation of adhoc terminus. Use of footpath and road side as parking for public transport further aggravates the situation and narrows the width of the road for use of moving traffic. Raja Bazaar needs bus stops but not bus terminus. Government’s plan to regularize adhoc public transport terminal within Raja Bazaar will not be a solution to present traffic issues. Such an action would encourage further commercialization of the area and pressure on existing infrastructure.
Raja Bazaar is not only important in a being historical district but also for its present status of a major commercial market. Further increase in commercialization will have serious impact on both environment and its heritage. Already temple and pre-colonial architecture is loosing its battle against market forces. Traffic issues are taking a grave turn day by day and problem of pollution is on the rise. For the next stage it would be viable to find why local wholesale businesses are unwilling to shift out of here. At present one group that is enjoying the situation is of beggar community as witnessed by following example:
Mir Baber is 60 years old and has been begging for last 5 years in Raja Bazaar. Before, he was in Lahore at Data Darbar. He migrated here because Raja Bazaar is more populous. They have more income due to traffic rush, traffic jam and congestion. And hence people like him are in favour of current conditions.