Srinagar: Due to the unavailability of public transport service in Srinagar, mostly during the evening hours, people have been left in dismay as they have to wait for hours on road to get a lift from private vehicles to reach home.
Passenger taxis coming from several routes to enter Srinagar are stopped at various entries of Srinagar including Pantha Chowk, Nowgam Bypass, Parimpora due to which passengers are dropped halfway causing immense problems to them.
This was followed by the 2017 order of the High Court and as per the order, “traffic authorities have been told not to allow Tata Sumos and taxis coming from the south and north Kashmir beyond the Pantha Chowk and Parimpora bus stands.”
The directions were issued by a division bench of the High Court which was hearing public interest litigation to streamline the traffic in Srinagar.
Javaid Ahmad, a taxi driver at Iqbal Park driving from Iqbal Park to Chattergam said, “We are not allowed to run on this route beyond 3 pm and this is why most of the drivers do not enter the city after this time. We drop the passengers at the bypass because the traffic police seize our vehicles if we run beyond this. We know passengers in the evening hours do not find taxis at various stands but we cannot help them as we are helpless.”
Ghulam Rasool, President Anantnag taxi stand said that earlier they used to drive from Anantnag to Srinagar but for the last two months no taxi drivers are allowed to go beyond Pantha Chowk.
“Passengers are facing huge difficulties because a passenger who requires to travel to Srinagar, has to take another bus or sumo to reach Srinagar. Mostly it is very difficult to find sumo from Pantha chowk,” he added.
Due to the travel restriction, public transport vanishes from the roads early in the evening, thus leaving the passengers in the lurch.
Irked by the sudden change in the traffic rules, Muzaffer Ahmad, a passenger who travels from Newa to Lal Chowk regularly, expressed his anger and said, “Nothing is organized here! If the authorities have to change traffic rules, they have to first find out the alternative so that people are not left to suffer. This administration is for people but they are enjoying their private ride. It is people who are suffering on the ground. My office is in Srinagar and everyone cannot afford a private vehicle. For the last one month, I have faced a lot of problems in managing the ride.”
He said that earlier he had to take one sumo to reach Srinagar but now he finds it very difficult to get another sumo from Nowgam bypass. “I have several times asked for a lift from many private car owners.”
While male passengers are somehow able to manage lift from strangers, the females find it insecure to ask for the same from private vehicles.
“Keeping in mind the situation, I am afraid to ask for a lift. I have to either take an auto or book a cab which is very expensive for me. I am a private employee,” said Iqra, a commuter from Nishat.
Senior Superintendent of Traffic Police, Muzaffer Shah told Free Press Kashmir that his primary responsibility is regulation and enforcement.
“In terms of availability of public transport, we are in the process of improving it, I have also talked to ARTO because I am not the sole entity when it comes to the management of traffic. Wherever there is a need for public transport we ask sumo unions to provide the services,” Shah added.
Assistant Regional Transport Officer, Arif Ahmad said, “There are strict court orders and we are following them. We are ensuring minibusses on these roads and also very soon electric bus service will be on roads.”
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