(MENAFN - Daily Outlook Afghanistan) Pavements are the key component of cities' infrastructure which are constructed in cities particularly in crowded and less crowded areas as the citizens' rights for safe commuting and comfortable urban traffic. Pavements are inseparable parts of the cities' infrastructure and are considered as kay elements in urban design. 'Pavements consist of three parts: the free zone, where people actually walk; the service area, where street furniture is placed as a chink or rubbish bin; and the transfer area, where the access for people inside the sidewalk to the buildings. Understanding the relationship between these elements is an essential element in designing appropriate size footpaths.
In Afghanistan, municipalities have made tremendous efforts in pavement construction and thus constructed appropriate pavements in every parts of the cities aimed at providing basic urban infrastructure. Citizens use these pavements for various purposes knowingly and unknowingly which sometimes makes life easy for them. Sometimes, unreasonable use of the pavements by citizens causes urban problems to others. In this article, the situation of urban pavement, the culture of using pavement and their role in urban congestion in Afghanistan are discussed.
As per the Afghanistan Urban Development Law, all urban infrastructures are constructed in accordance with the city master plan and detailed plans. It should be noted that most of Afghanistan's cities either have no master plans or even if they have any, they are not properly implemented. Despite all the challenges, in the construction of cities, whether planed or unplanned, the construction of pavements is well considered, and you find fewer neighborhoods in a city that lack pavements. The condition of these pavements in better developed and rich cities is much better with good decoration by mosaics, while in less developed or poorer cities, existing pavements are without mosaics which are dusty during summer and muddy during winter that makes the commuting difficult for citizens.
Other challenges that add to urban pavement issues include poor urban culture, lack of civic education, inappropriate role models, and lack of social corporate responsibility by academic institutions in culture building that makes life difficult for people and increases potential risks. Here are some examples which reflects poor urban culture among citizens particularly in use of pavements in Afghanistan cities:
Blockage of pavements by government institutions, national and international organizations, commanders, etc; Operation of street vendors in pavements; Putting of merchandise by shopkeepers in pavement to attract customers; Commuting of passersby on the streets rather pavements even though the roads are open; which create traffic accident risks and group movement of citizens in horizonal line sometimes blocks half of the road. When car horns at them, it may lead to quarrel sometimes. Sometimes, this causes accident and injuries to passerby. Improper implementation of law indirectly motivates passersby to use roads for pavement because in case of accident, the car drivers are subject to punishment even certain individuals on the roads are proved to be guilty. Boarding of passengers by public transporters in pavements or in the middle of the streets; in crowded and less width street, hundreds of vehicles must wait for hours for only one vehicle to complete its passengers which can cause heavy traffic. And indifference of traffic police despite monitoring the situation; examples of this indifference could be seen in Kote Sangi, Jada-e-maiwand, Sarai Shamali square and many other locations in Kabul.
It is worth to consider that urban facilities and infrastructure, especially pavements, acceptable culture of using these infrastructures and proper implementation of civil law are complementary to each other and, each of these set ups plays a significant role in urban life. Urban facilities provide citizen with better commuting infrastructure, cleaner urban environment, safe and comfortable traffic, etc. and all together depend to an appropriate culture of using them. Mutual respect to humanity mandates every human being to avoid misuse of public facilities. Also, for personal benefits or businesses whether small, we should not block pavements and roads which are built for public use. Meanwhile, citizens are encouraged to comply with rules on use of public facilities and avoid using roads for pavement while drivers are encouraged for safe driving to guarantee safety of theirs, the citizen and their social environment.
With due consideration to the current urban realities, existence of pavement, culture of using it and role of both in urban life were thoroughly highlighted and indicate that growing challenges exist. Thus, to minimize the above challenges, responsible authorities are called for to pay serious attention to implementation of the relevant rules and regulations while citizens are requested to act like a responsible citizen so that we have safe, beautiful, clean and inclusive cities that everyone enjoys life.