Garhi Shahu Chowk is a nightmare for those who have to cross it on a regular basis. It is an important location, considering it is situated on one of the oldest roads in the city and connects various localities with each other. For instance, the traffic coming down from Garhi Shahu, Dharampura and Canal Road, and heading towards the Railway Station and other parts of the city — and vice versa — must meet this Chowk.
Besides, it is one point that links the Northern Lahore with the remaining Lahore via the Garhi Shahu Bridge. That is why thousands of vehicles have to ply on this route every day, in the absence of an alternative link.
Having said that, heavy flow of traffic is not the only reason for the mess. As Muhammad Arshad Bajwa, a qualified engineer, notes, “The main cause is that the Chowk has constructions on all its four sides and there are no slip lanes or enough space for the traffic coming from any side to turn left.” (A slip lane, he explains, is a traffic lane provided at an intersection to allow vehicles to turn without having to enter it.)
In this scenario, those who need to make a left are stuck behind the traffic going straight on. This results in long queues and gridlocks at other turns as well.
Chaudhry Waqar, a resident of Garhi Shahu, recalls how earlier there was an attempt to demolish the plazas built around the Chowk but this could not be done as there was lot of resistance from the public.
Besides, he says, there was lack of coordination as the plaza and the properties on both sides of the road (leading to the Garhi Shahu bridge) belonged to Pakistan Railways.
The only viable solution suggested in this regard is that there should be a kilometer-long overhead bridge on Allama Iqbal Road. This would ease the flow of traffic coming from the side of the canal and heading towards the Railway Station.
The project, according to Waqar, has been under consideration for the past six years. Apparently, the delay is caused by the non-availability of government funds.
“The Chowk happens to lie in the electoral constituency of Speaker, National Assembly Ayaz Sadiq. If he cannot arrange funds then what good is he for his voters?” he asks.
PML-N MPA Raheela Khadim Hussain says she along with MPA Mohsin Lateef and Speaker National Assembly Ayaz Sadiq is looking into the matter and shall be meeting the Punjab CM very soon.
She is hopeful of a breakthrough as the Garhi Shahu Chowk is on the route of the Green Line of the proposed metro train. “It needs to be remodelled for the purpose in any case,” she says.