tax
A heavy toll

Contractors are collecting exorbitant tax from commuters at the toll plaza between Begum Kot and Kot Abdul Malik
By Muhammad Imran
Lahore-Faisalabad road has facilitated the people of Lahore, Sheikhupura, Faisalabad and Nankana Sahib, reducing their travel time. However, one problem that has marred the good impact is the toll plaza erected between Begum Kot and Kot Abdul Malik. The tax taken from commuters is much higher than all other toll plazas in Punjab and other provinces. They charge Rs25 from cars, Rs45 from wagons, Rs70 from buses and Rs25 from tractors. These rates are double the rates of all other toll plazas.

Broadband nation
Internet service providers look to usher us into the broadband age but not without teething troubles
By Jazib Zahir
Lahore received its first taste of the World Wide Web in the mid-nineties, courtesy providers like Brain that offered simple dial-up facilities. People signed up in droves to be among the first to use electronic mail or browse yahoo.com in Pakistan.

Town Talk
Film: Khuda Kay Liye at DHA, Sozo and Shabistan cinema.

Film: Die Hard 4.0 at DHA and Plaza cinema.
Beyond Borders Film Festival 2007 till Sept 1. 

way 
forward
A woman's job

The first batch of lady traffic police in the city demonstrate competence and confidence, commanding respect from citizens
By Amal Ghani

The recent introduction of female traffic officers stunned and shocked Lahorites. The concept of having women control the traffic is new but a large majority of the people has reacted positively to this change. The officers are also very confident about themselves and proud of their job. They say that wearing their uniforms gives them a certain kind of confidence, pride and satisfaction. This is due to the fact that they are doing something important and worthwhile. 

What is in a name?
A mere change in the name of roads won't make a great impact in invigorating the glorified past of the Muslims
By Shehram Khan
The people of Lahore have always had mixed feelings when it comes to renaming roads and streets. Many who have been living in Lahore for over half a century look at it as a threat to their proud heritage.

RESPONSES TO LAST WEEK'SQUESTION
TOP 10
Roads and 
Places permanently under construction

 


tax
A heavy toll
Contractors are collecting exorbitant tax from commuters at the toll plaza between Begum Kot and Kot Abdul Malik

By Muhammad Imran

Lahore-Faisalabad road has facilitated the people of Lahore, Sheikhupura, Faisalabad and Nankana Sahib, reducing their travel time. However, one problem that has marred the good impact is the toll plaza erected between Begum Kot and Kot Abdul Malik. The tax taken from commuters is much higher than all other toll plazas in Punjab and other provinces. They charge Rs25 from cars, Rs45 from wagons, Rs70 from buses and Rs25 from tractors. These rates are double the rates of all other toll plazas.

Residents of the adjacent localities are the worst sufferers because they have to travel often. Sometimes they end up paying 150-200 rupees in a day. The public transporters on the route have doubled their fares by taking plea of toll tax. Neither does the government check the public transporters nor has it taken any measure to provide relief to the people of the area.

The residents of adjoining localities have agitated against the exorbitant tax but the concerned authorities have turned a deaf ear to their plea. As a result of their agitation the LAFCO (Lahore-Faisalabad Construction) has increased toll tax. This has further increased the worries of the commuters.

"I travel from Sheikhupura to Lahore almost every day. The fare has increased by Rs15-20 in the last two years. The toll tax is one reason among many for this increase. I pay 80 rupees in fare daily. The toll tax here is approximately double the tax taken at other toll plazas on GT Road and highways," says Muhammad Adnan, a student of LLB, Part III.

Aslam Bhatti, a resident of Kot Abdul Maalik severely criticises the policy makers over such a high toll tax on cars and tractors. He disagrees with the proclamation of the Government of Punjab that it has done great work to relieve the problem of the masses. "I cross this toll plaza on my tractor almost three times a day which means I have to pay Rs150 to them, which is a lot of money for me. We were better off before the construction of this road," he says.

Union Council Nazim, Kot Abdul Maalik, Mohsin Raza Chadhar, says that the projection of government that it has empowered the masses through local government plan, is wrong. "The veteran politicians and administrative authorities do not pay heed to our voice. We live on one side while the offices of most of the employees are on another side. We have to pay every time we pass this way. The people protested against the construction of toll plaza in the beginning and the authorities promised to give them special concession but it proved a delaying tactic. The toll plaza authorities further increased the gate money by 20 per cent on 1st of July."

"I requested the authorities that the toll plaza should have been erected besides the Motorway Bridge, when it was being constructed. At that time the administration and decision makers didn't bother. Now the people are agitating. My critics hold me responsible but I have passed a resolution in the house to change its present status and want to construct it after the residential colonies," says Rana Anwarul Haq, Tehsil Nazim Ferozwala.

"I met the chief minister and requested him to solve the two year old problem of the people. I have no other option besides this. This is injustice with the people of the area because they are paying a heavy toll tax, which has no example. Even when we use motorway from Kala Shah Kaku-Babu Sabu, we have to pay fifteen rupees but here the case is totally different," he says. "Despite the fact that this is our government, it is uncooperative over this issue with me. I will continue my effort till the desired objectives are achieved."

Lt. Col. Zulfiqar Ali, officer in command (OIC) of LAFCO says that the Lahore-Faisalabad road is constructed by four shareholders and Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) is one. Government of Pakistan and Punjab have not paid even a single penny and it has been contracted on lease for 25 years with certain conditions of its maintenance and rebuilding twice in these years. "LAFCO is legally authorised to increase tax at each toll plaza on this road every year. The builders of this road have spent a huge amount upon its construction and they have to take it from commuters. People have the habit of raising hue and cry whenever they have to pay taxes. They want good roads but don't want to pay toll tax. We can't make progress till we become good taxpayer nation," he says. "There is a package for those who live within three kilometres of the toll plaza. They can pass through the toll post as many times by paying 550 rupees per month."



Broadband nation
Internet service providers look to usher us into the broadband age but not without teething troubles
By Jazib Zahir

Lahore received its first taste of the World Wide Web in the mid-nineties, courtesy providers like Brain that offered simple dial-up facilities. People signed up in droves to be among the first to use electronic mail or browse yahoo.com in Pakistan.

But as our appetites for bandwidth grew and our narrow phone lines became increasingly clogged, the age was ripe for services that would always be running without the need to painstakingly dial in. Today, we are spoiled for choice between a plethora of cable and DSL providers looking to address this need by serving up a variety of packages charging us by bandwidth consumption.

What has driven this need for speed on the internet highway? The popularity of video sharing websites and peer to peer file sharing activities is largely culpable. But some just need to maintain a lifestyle they have become accustomed to. Shahzad was a student in the United States for four years and has opted for a DSL connection promptly on his return. "My university campus had an excellent broadband connection and now I can't imagine going without being able to download heavy files and always having my mailbox open in front of me," he explains.

Indeed, the internet has much of its origin in academia and it makes sense that college campuses would take the lead in getting their inhabitants wired. Ahsan lives on the campus of the University of Engineering and Technology and is able to benefit from a cable internet connection provided by the university. "I use it primarily for academic journals I need for reference and teaching tools I may need to upload," he says, "but having the facility has encouraged me to join discussion forums in my areas of interest which would not have been possible in the dialup age."

Worldcall was the first to identify the pressing demand for bandwidth. It introduced cable internet which could be attractively bundled into the slew of services it already offered. In more recent times, a wealth of DSL providers have mushroomed around the city with WOL, Supernet, and Cybernet among the most frequently cited by consumers.

So how does one sort through this dizzying array of choices? "DSL allows you to stay connected even when power is lost," says Saad, an engineer. "Beyond that, you need to make sure that your provider of interest serves your specific region and you should do a price comparison."

He has a further tip for those who are interested. "Most providers are at their best early in their lifetime. As the traffic on their network grows with increasing subscribers, the quality tends to degrade. These days, PTCL is an attractive option since their DSL is relatively fresh. As someone who requires broadband for his daily work, I have made several transitions between service providers always opting for the new one that is providing the zippiest service."

But growing pains are not the only problem. Customers frequently grouse about erratic service outages and spotty customer service. Akhtar is a resident of Shah Jamal who a week after signing up with a DSL provider, still has not had the service installed at his residence. "It's frustrating because I need to run my business from home," he explains. "There seems to be no mechanism to inform subscribers how long it may take to get the service up and running. At the time of sign-up the impression given is that everything will be installed within a day."

"The providers are usually good about keeping their official upgrade periods at awkward hours of night when they do not anticipate consumer usage. But still it is very common for the services to be non-functional for long durations during the day. Even when they are active, the download speeds can be variable. My provider does not seem to feel an obligation to maintain a minimum quality of service," says a frustrated Jahanzeb, a resident of DHA. Other common complaints include the messes made during the installation process and the tardiness of installation teams in disconnecting services.

As long as the community demonstrates an appetite for high speed surfing, companies will rise to quench their thirst. In recent times, Pizza Hut has made wireless broadband available in its outlets and telecommunication operators have been clamouring to be the first to provide nationwide wireless coverage, indicating the direction future delivery of broadband is likely to take.

A recent report circulated in the United States Senate pointed out how their broadband penetration was lower than several European and Asian countries, particularly South Korea where broadband was treated as a basic utility. The report called for a more coherent policy of broadband deployment to ensure that the nation did not lose its edge in technology and education. Pakistan too is a success story in encouraging varied actors to take the broadband stage. But a greater commitment to quality is needed to set the building blocks for a vibrant economy.


Town Talk

Film: Khuda Kay Liye at DHA, Sozo and Shabistan cinema.

 

Film: Die Hard 4.0 at DHA and Plaza cinema.

 

Beyond Borders Film Festival 2007 till Sept 1.

See www.tvbeyondborders.com/filmfestival.

 

Puppet shows for everyone every Sunday at Peerus Cafe

at 3pm for free.

 

Jazz Night at Peeru's Cafe

-- a fusion of Jazz and tabla on Sundays at 9pm for free.

 

Puppet Show

for Children at Alhamra, The Mall at 11am.

Ticket for Rs 5/10.

 

Nazir Ahmad Music Society stages

a concert every Saturday at Government College University at 1:30pm.

 


way 
forward
A woman's job
The first batch of lady traffic police in the city demonstrate competence and confidence, commanding respect from citizens

By Amal Ghani

The recent introduction of female traffic officers stunned and shocked Lahorites. The concept of having women control the traffic is new but a large majority of the people has reacted positively to this change. The officers are also very confident about themselves and proud of their job. They say that wearing their uniforms gives them a certain kind of confidence, pride and satisfaction. This is due to the fact that they are doing something important and worthwhile.

For the first time women are doing something that was previously looked upon as a 'man's job'. Although the role of women is increasing slowly and steadily, it is limited to offices and desk jobs. Walking on the road one hardly sees any woman -- it seems that this city consists of men only. This is not true. The introduction of female traffic police has changed this image. With the arrival of these female officers the government has taken a giant step forward.

The concept of having female officers is completely new. We see many young girls working for the traffic police. The idea itself originated from the motorway police and some of these girls are also inspired by the female officers working for the motorway police. "I live in Pattoki. There I saw female lady officers. I liked the way they communicated to people and found them extremely decent. Therefore when I got an opportunity to be one of them I took it," says Shehnaz, a young female traffic officer.

Doing a field job for two months is compulsory for all the officers who graduate from the police academy. No distinction is made between male and female officers. Later, they are given different types of jobs. While there are some lady officers who prefer desk jobs over field jobs, a majority of them say that to them it does not matter. They are there to do their job and they will do it with the utmost honesty and sincerity, be it working on the roadside or in the office.

Almost all of the women working as traffic police belong to conservative families. They say that although their families were a little apprehensive when they started, they were never stopped from doing their jobs. When I ask them that who encouraged them the most once they decided to work for the traffic police the unanimous reply is 'My father'. This is a clear example of how our society has grown over the past few years and it very clearly points out that people have become more open-minded.

Initially, they were hesitant to stand on roads but this feeling wore off quickly and now they are extremely confident about what they are doing. They know what their job is and are not hesitant to tell people off for doing something wrong. "In the beginning I faced a tough time but now things have become a lot better," says Asma Shabbir. The fact that people take them seriously, listen to them and don't make fun of them is commendable. A lot of people are even scared of them while others just respect them for the bold step that they have taken. The officers themselves have absolutely no issues concerning the fact that they are the first female officers in Pakistan to do a job like this one.

In the very beginning while most people respected them there were also those who did not think this way. Therefore, they gave the officers a tough time. Some people tried to make fun of them but they soon learned that they could not get away with that. They were officers just like their male colleagues. The female officers think very differently from such people. To them their gender is something that they are least concerned about. Once they are in uniform they are officers, nothing more and nothing less and demand the respect that any other officer receives. Similarly, Lahorites have learned to respect them as such.

A vast majority of the people were very skeptical about the introduction of female officers. Although they thought that this was a positive step taken by the Punjab Government they were not ready to believe that the female officers would actually last. They thought that due to the attitude of the people the female officers would be forced to do desk jobs but they have been proved wrong.

With almost a month gone by since the introduction of the new traffic police the fact that the female officers are here to stay has become quite obvious. Over here I cannot help but applaud the Lahorites who have made this possible with their positive attitudes and open minded approach. The female officers have complete faith in the new system and are convinced that they are here to stay -- come what may.



What is in a name?
A mere change in the name of roads won't make a great impact in invigorating the glorified past of the Muslims

By Shehram Khan

The people of Lahore have always had mixed feelings when it comes to renaming roads and streets. Many who have been living in Lahore for over half a century look at it as a threat to their proud heritage.

Muhammad Rafique who is a resident of Guru Mangat Road and also runs a motorcycle workshop in the same locality said, "I personally would never have accepted the decision to change the name of this road to Al-Khair road. I have been living here for 25 years and what do you expect me to do when our roads are being suddenly called by other names". Al-Khair Road remains a strange name for the buses, rickshaw drivers and residents alike refer to it as Guru Mangat road. Same is the case with many other roads in Lahore.

When the question was put before the higher authorities they had an interesting version of their own to tell. According to them this was a step taken by them to bring Muslims closer to their history. According to them naming the roads after Muslim heroes and leaders would create a good atmosphere of Muslim brotherhood in the city. Many concur with this view. These people may have a a point but a change in the name of roads won't make a great impact in invigorating the glorified past of the Muslims when in reality there is need for social awakening of the Muslims.

Lahore Nazim Mian Amir Mahmood decided not to rename the roads saying: "We had solicited public's viewpoint and our feedback suggests that the old names should not be changed." Mian Amir said some people proposed changing of names of the roads following which his office solicited feedback from the public. "When the feedback came it was not in favour of changing the old names. So we decided to drop the idea there and then."

Bilal Pervaiz, a resident of Shadman, who comes from an educated background, says if the city government is so much concerned about educating people, especially the new generation, of Muslim heroes, they should try to revive or honour the subcontinental heroes. He further adds: "The area where I live holds a special place in subcontinental history. Shadman is the place where Bhagat Singh was hanged by the British government. Though Bhagat Singh was not a Muslim, he was among the pioneers of the freedom movement in this region. The CDGL should think of honouring this person by at least naming the Shadman Chowk to Bhagat Singh Chowk."

Many historians and people who hold values and culture sacred think the same way. They stress  the fact that before independence people like Sir Ganga Ram, Dayal Singh and Gulab Devi did a lot for this city. How can their names be scrapped from the roads or institutions named after them. Similarly, the British gave the people of Lahore places like Mayo Hospital, Lawrence Garden and many places meant for the betterment of these people.

"Why rename roads after Muslim religious personalities instead of famous personalities who had contributed to this specific place. Renaming the roads after prominent Muslim people who have no link with this specific region, has become a common practice since the last decades," says Asim Javed  who lives in Lahore since childhood.

What the local government should think of is how the conditions of the roads can be improved. Furthermore, these names of the roads are a historical representation of Lahore. A tourist travelling through Lahore will surely be curious to know the history of these roads and the city. These simple acts can end up in depriving the new generation of the link to their heritage. It's good if the city nazim has respect for people's opinion and has decided not to change the names of roads.


TOP 10

Roads and

Places permanently under construction

1. Raheem Plaza, Main Boulevard

2. H Karim Baksh, Liberty

3. Rahat Bakery, Cantt

4. Jalal sons, Main Market

5. Bab-e-Pakistan, Walton

6. Main Boulevard, Allama Iqbal Town

7.IMAX Cinema, Mini Market

8. Ahad Plaza, Kalma Chowk

9.  Masood Hospital, Kalma Chowk

10. Sports complex, Ferozepur road

To enlist by popular vote the 'top ten' for next week, send in your emails on top ten

'Top ten cheapest children clothes points in Lahore'.

|Home|Daily Jang|The News|Sales & Advt|Contact Us|

BACK ISSUES