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Protest sparks snarl-ups on major roads

Protest sparks snarl-ups on major roads

KARACHI: Karachiites suffered extremely bad traffic jams on Friday following the blockade of Sharea Faisal by protesting Bol TV employees over the recent action by the government, forcing the traffic police to divert vehicles to alternate routes, which caused traffic congestion on other roads and arteries also.

A large number of Bol TV workers staged a sit-in on the edge of Sharea Faisal near the Metropole Hotel traffic intersection in the afternoon, demanding a no-objection certificate for the channel, unfreezing of their salary accounts and a halt to “harassment” and “media trial” of its parent company.

Though the sit-in was also joined in by leaders of media bodies and members of the journalist fraternity, the protest started causing traffic issues on Sharea Faisal and within an hour the situation turned worse.

The traffic and police authorities remained silent when asked if any effort was being made by them to normalise the traffic, which remained suspended on part of Sharea Faisal and Abdullah Haroon Road for more than eight hours and led to collapse of the traffic system on other major roads.

“We don’t exactly know,” said DIG-Traffic Dr Amir Sheikh when asked about the authorities who allowed the sit-in by the scores of media workers at the crucial traffic intersection. “We have conveyed our concerns to the city police chief and all other authorities that the protest is creating a traffic mess across the city and we need their help to bring an end to this hours-long protest, but in vain.”

The gridlock, which mainly started from Gora Qabristan, later stretched to Karsaz on Sharea Faisal, where thousands of vehicles, among them ambulances, were seen stranded in the traffic jam. In telephonic conversation with Dawn more than an hour after sunset, a Karachi traffic police spokesman said the traffic had started turning normal though the protest was continuing.

Apart from Sharea Faisal, I.I. Chundrigar Road, Dr Ziauddin Ahmed Road, M.R. Kayani Road, Rafiqi Shaheed Road, Sarwar Shaheed Road, Court Road, M.A. Jinnah Road, Fatima Jinnah Road, Old Outram Road, Hasrat Mohani Road, Wood Street, Shahrah-i-Kamal Ataturk, Burnes Road, Belassis Street, Shahrah-i-Liaquat and Nicol Road, traffic chaos stretched to parts of Saddar as well.

At the sit-in, media works, political leaders and workers of Bol TV demanded immediate relief for the organisation and an end to the “media trial” of the upcoming news channel that came in the limelight after the Axact scandal. They also demanded an NOC for the channel and unfreezing of the salary accounts of the workers.

Published in Dawn, June 13th, 2015

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