TO LAST WEEK'SQUESTION
A heavy toll
Contractors are collecting exorbitant tax from commuters at the toll plaza between Begum Kot and Kot Abdul Malik
By Muhammad Imran
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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
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."
Internet service providers look to usher us into the broadband age but not without teething troubles
By Jazib Zahir
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
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
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.
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."
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.
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
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."
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 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.
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
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.
Puppet shows for everyone every Sunday at Peerus Cafe
3pm for free.
Jazz Night at Peeru's Cafe
a fusion of Jazz and tabla on Sundays at 9pm for free.
Children at Alhamra, The Mall at 11am.
for Rs 5/10.
Nazir Ahmad Music Society stages
concert every Saturday at Government College University at 1:30pm.
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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."
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.
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.
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.
permanently under construction
Raheem Plaza, Main Boulevard
H Karim Baksh, Liberty
Rahat Bakery, Cantt
Jalal sons, Main Market
Main Boulevard, Allama Iqbal Town
Cinema, Mini Market
Ahad Plaza, Kalma Chowk
Masood Hospital, Kalma Chowk
Sports complex, Ferozepur road
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