Over the last five years, the skylines of Lahore have changed significantly. The development of Metro Bus System and Azadi Interchange are always a source of attraction for foreigners as well as people from other provinces of Pakistan.
Recently, the Indian High Commissioner TCA Raghavan appreciated the development of infrastructure in Lahore and termed the Islamabad-Lahore Motorway as the only road of European standards in entire South Asia. With the initiation of geo-technical assessment of various sections of the proposed US $ 1.6 billion Orange Line of Metro Train System, the Lahorites are bracing for the construction activity that would continue for another 2 years.
These projects are attracting kudos from international donor agencies like World Bank and Asian Development Bank. But an avid view of the development schemes in Lahore show that the development is restricted to a few roads and areas of the Lahore especially Ferozpur road that leads toancestral Model Town residences of the Sharif family and other influential politicians of both sides of the political divide. The islands of development are also seen in the posh areas like DHA, WAPDA Town, Jauhar Town and other housing schemes in city’s suburbs where one sees roads filled with luxury vehicles all the times.
But most of the localities of the city give a shabby look with dilapidated roads and un-disposed sewage and garbage everywhere. Certain arteries like Sanda road and Shalimar Link road which were constructed by FWO as model roads during the first tenure of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif in 1998, are now full of pits. Similarly most of the 36 pedestrians bridges constructed with a total cost of Rs 1 billion are located over Ferozepur road and Jail road. The situation on other major arteries linking different parts of the city is alarming with no geometrical re-modeling of the intersections and roundabouts for a long time.
This has led to congestion and jams in the neglected areas of the city especially the Central Business District and walled city where a motorist has to spend couple of hours to cover a distance of two or three kilometers. Through this lopsided planning, government has developed only islands of development in the ocean of under-development in this second biggest town of the country. To rectify the anomalies, there is need of inclusive development strategy that will ensure equal opportunities to each and every locality of the city to develop in line with modern day needs. Otherwise, the tale of two cities will pass to the next generation of Lahorites.