Have you ever been to South Asia? If you have not, then it can be said that you have never witnessed any “traffic” at all. The challenges of these countries lies within the complex and chaotic infastructure of the street networks within the cities, excessive number of vehicles mostly in the form of small engined and two or three wheeled motorcycles, using those motorcycles not as an individual but a multi-passenger transportation way, and not respecting even the basic traffic rules.
Lahore is also classified as one of those highly populated Asian cities. I think those who knows Pakistan would interrupt me at this point and would say that Karachi should be the main subject of this post but, although I have been to both cities frequently, I`ve been to Lahore more than I`ve been to Karachi and I have a very limited knowledge of the Karachi in general, since I am using a selected and limited number of roads as a security protocol requested by my employer.
If you have a chance to go to Lahore, the very first thing you will experience will be the effect of the heat and moisture. If you are not accostumed to both of those elements, you will find yourselves, rushing into the areas controlled by air conditioners to be able to breathe. Do not worry though, the feeling is passing with time. After the effects of the accessive heat, you will find yourself in the huge crowd waiting outside and inside of the airport. The people I`ve met in Pakistan is usually friendly and I`ve never used a taxi or a public transport, so I can say that if your arrangements are done properly, you will be quiet comfortable till you are travelling to your final destination.
At that point, I have to stop and say that the conditions I am describing is valid, If you are landing in the very early hours of the morning. If you are landing at around 07:00 a.m. or later, you will definetely have your first experiences of the Lahore traffic.
Before coming to Pakistan, I`d been to some African countries, many parts of Europe, Thailand and the United States. I`ve not seen a similar traffic before, where people are so dependent to motorcycles and use them in a manner as if they are in a computer game and they are all invulnerable. They are used to not using their signals, making unexpectable lane changings, and sharp breakings. The condition of the light vehicles seem ok but the heavy vehicles like busses and trucks are very poor and one cannot help but wonder how those types of vehicles can grant a pass from integrity testing.
As I have mentioned before, the motorcycles are the catalizer of the events with carrying more than one person on them (Even families are travelling on one motorcycle from time to time). They have a tendency that they often use and cross between lanes without using signals or even their arms. People use their horns and lights often to warn each other. In my culture, if you use the horn as it is used in Pakistan, it will surely irritate the other drivers and a road rage issue will be inevitable. But in Pakistan, using a horn is very common and usual thing and people do use this option very easily.
I think, the absence of public transport is the main reason behind the traffic in the South Asian countries and Lahore is taking the very first steps of having a railway and a seperate bus lane but still, there is a huge way to cross. In the mean time, people are using their vehicles more and more as the population grows.
The condition of the roads also needs mentioning, since the general condition is poor and you should be careful if you do not want to harm your vehicle. You may find road blocks as a result of infastructural works, improvements or collapsed areas after a heavy monsoon rain.
Since the issue is a result of many different problems combined, there is not a single and effective solution that anyone can apply. The complexity of the issue requires a comprehensive and complex action or set of actions to be taken. For a long period of time, all multi-national companies acted alone and tried to implement their vehicle driving policies. Setting a set of rules on a very limited number of drivers and vehicles brings more problem, since it makes the lives of those drivers who would like to act within the rules but fail to succeed as the general chaos out there is too big to handle.
At that part, me and some colleagues gathered together to find solutions and the idea we gathered around was to form a collaborative approach that is formed by the industry, authorities, NGOs and pushing hard on general public awareness, demanding better ways of public transportation, and raising the bars for the logistics sector standards.
A formation with the scope mentione above is in progress as we speak and soon, people will hear about the steps those brave pioneers are taking in order to improve the traffic chaos of Lahore. Such collaborative approaches can be formed in any country or reigon that needs a pushing force to reshape its chaotic situation. For details, updates or feedbacks stay in touch and stay safe 😊
I am planning to write down my experience of Multan sand storm, so stay tuned …