RAWALPINDI - It is praiseworthy to sensitise our children on road safety at educational institutions and it is also commendable, indeed responsibility of the commoners, to follow the rules and signs while using road. However, when it comes to encroachment of road signboard, the worst offenders are political parties, in general, and particularly those who are in power corridors.

Activists of political parties across the country find it a convenient, cheapest and above all popular way of publicity to hang their party banners, besides pasting stickers, on road signboards. The same is the case with Rawalpindi, where ruling PML-N activists have encroached almost all the road signboards on Benazir Buutto Road, the major thoroughfare of city.

Road signboards showing directions and distances are pasted with political banners with pictures of local party leaders including the parliamentarians on them.

City administration has installed these huge signboards ahead of busy and important road junctions on Benazir Buutto Road, including Double (Stadium) Road, 6th Road, Commercial Market, Rawal Road, and Marir Chowk for the convenience of visitors and tourists.

But now this facility meant for citizens/tourists convenience is draped with huge sheets containing the pictures of PML-N bigwigs including Sharrif brothers.     

The practice on one part causing inconvenience to citizens while on other it creates hurdles in the smooth running of traffic as outsiders/ visitors usually found asking the other drivers about the directions in the absence of signboards.

“Of late, these posters were removed from the signboards after I lodged a written complaint with the office of Commissioner Rawalpindi. But a few days after their removal the activists of PML-N have abused the facility. I complained once again a week ago and I am waiting for response from city administration,” said Sheikh Ali Afzal, a lawyer by profession and community activist from Satellite Town.

“We could achieve relatively better and easier drive within existing infrastructure, resources and facilities by giving an end to such practices and by properly maintaining our roads and signboards,” Sheikh added.

“It is the cultural barrier, which persuades politicians to go for such cheap publicity drive, as our people most of them unaware of their civic rights don’t consider such violations as bothersome. While, city administration confronting strong political pressures even can’t dare to remove the investments of local political activists,” Ali Afzal said.

He suggested the need to overcome such cultural barriers to solve many of our problems.

“I still remember the tragic night when PPP activists upon hearing the news of assassination of Benazir Bhutto at Liaqat Bagh gone wild and smashed and up rooted poles and signboards where banners and stickers of PML-N leaders were hanged. I think the images of opponent party leaders had added to the feelings of PPP activists, but it resulted in damage to facilities meant for public, indeed for them,” Sadaf Ali, a housewife while counting the impacts of such practices said.

This careless approach on the part of our political parties, caring least for their own society, is part and parcel of our culture, she said suggesting those who deface the signboards should be fined and roads should be made commuter-friendly.

District Coordination Officer (DCO) Rawalpindi Saqib Zafar talking to TheNation termed the practice of pasting stickers on signboards as a continuous activity. “More than an action against the responsible I suggest sensitisation of general public over the issue. We need to launch and pursue a vigorous public awareness drive over the impact of such practices.”

Saqib said in recent past the city administration had launched several drives to remove such banners and stickers but within few days of removal it sprung up again.

He added that the administration was going to launch a fresh drive against it and in upcoming days such stuff would be removed from signboards and electricity polls.