Forgotten SOPs for traffic and snow clearance led to disaster

Detailed SOPs framed and implemented for many years for the traffic and snow clearance arrangements in Murree during the winter season seem to have been ignored by the Buzdar government.

A copy of the nine-page SOPs, issued during the last government, envisaged a comprehensive joint action plan of all departments concerned with detailed mechanisms to ensure snow clearance and smooth flow of traffic in this important hill resort of the country.

Sources in the bureaucracy said that every year before the winter season, the former Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif used to hold a meeting with all these departments in Murree to manage traffic and clear snow during winters. Commissioners and Deputy Commissioners were used to be assigned to ensure the implementation of the SOPs with a regular monitoring mechanism in place in Lahore. Special funds were also used to be allocated to C&W and highway departments in particular.

According to the SOPs issued for 2014, different departments were assigned different tasks of their respective domain covering all possible aspects. The SOPs specifically name 30 major roads, which were earmarked for priority snow clearance by the provincial highways machinery division, Murree.

These SOPs assigned the TMA Murree to establish the main Tehsil Control Room, which will have round the clock representatives of all departments. Thirteen different tasks are assigned to the TMA in these SOPs.

The Provincial Highway Department Machinery Division was also tasked to establish a control room for any emergency and coordination with allied departments to be manned round the clock.

These SOPs say that there would be two main snow camps one in Sunny Bank and the other in Jhika Gali. In addition there will be 12 sub camps for snow clearance operation for all different areas of the hill station.

The SOPs said that 10 vehicles will be deployed for sprinkling of salt. The SOPs say that before the start of the snowfall the Highways machinery will be placed at the following points for prompt snow clearance- Jhika Gali Chowk, Kuldana Chowk, GPO Chowk, Bansra Gali and Sunny Bank Camp. The SDO Highway Machinery was tasked to arrange 4×4 jeeps for sprinkling of salt.

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