PESHAWAR: Patients, chemists and hotels owners have been suffering for the last two years as one of Lady Reading Hospital’s oldest entrances, the Asamai Gate, has been bolted due to security reasons.
The gate is situated on Asamai Road and is the closest gate to main GT Road. There are around 80 pharmacies, various hotels and eateries opposite the Asamai gate. Most customers are patients or their attendants using the Asamai Gate.
The K-P chapter of the Pakistan Chemist and Druggist Association has taken to the streets against the closure of the gate. They have been holding a sit-in outside the closed gate over the last three days.
The association’s president, Fayaz Mohibullah, while sitting in front of the gate with other colleagues, tells The Express Tribune customers have reduced by a whopping 80% over the last two years.
He complains the government and the hospital administration have paralysed business of those people who wanted to serve patients or attendants.
“All gates of the hospital are open except Asamai, creating a huge problem for druggists,” the association’s president adds.
Mohibullah alleges a hospital mafia is behind this move. Mohibullah adds many hotel managers have wound up their establishments due to the lack of customers.
He adds the hospital administration is not complying with court orders to open side spaces of the gate.
“The administration has constructed a wall inside the gate to permanently close it despite opening side spaces to cater to the influx of patients,” the association’s president said.
Patients’ attendants prefer to use the Asamai gate due to its proximity to main GT Road. The entrance is also close to one of the car parks.
Khan Zaman, who has come from Charsadda to tend to a patient, approaches the gate and finds it closed. Zaman says he fails to understand the logic behind closing this gate, while the others are open.
He adds all other gates are far away from main GT Road except the Asamai and Balahissar gates.
LRH’s media manager Zulfiqar Ali Babakhel tells The Express Tribune the gate has been closed after the Peshawar High Court issued a verdict to this effect in the hospital administration’s favour.
He adds the gate was closed due to security reasons and people are using it as a shortcut to visit the markets. Babakhel reiterates that the entrance is indeed a security threat to the hospital
Meanwhile, there is a traffic mess on Hospital Road around the premises of the casualty gate. An ambulance gets stuck in the gridlock. The road is too narrow to accommodate general traffic and those vehicles entering the casualty unit.
When asked if opening the Asamai gate will redress traffic issues, the media manager says the administration is trying to implement a “one patient, one attendant policy”. He hopes this will help reduce or eliminate the chaos around the casualty gate.