ISLAMABAD            -        A 9km long stretch of Islamabad Expressway from Gulberg Interchange to GT Road at Rawat is a picture of neglect as a series of potholes and craters have turned it into a permanent nuisance for road users.

Furthermore, work on Korang Bridge and PWD underpass could not be started so far as the federal government has yet to release funds. Islamabad Expressway is one of the major arteries of Islamabad while it is the sole way to reach the main part of the capital for those who are living in different housing societies falling on both sides of the highway and several parts of Rawalpindi as well. With increasing prices in sectoral areas of Islamabad, most of the people who are doing jobs in government and semi-government departments of Islamabad are living in Zone-V which is still offering comparatively affordable living.

However, they have to travel to main city on daily basis but continuous traffic congestion and the poor state of the road lands them into a permanent mental torture, waste of time and damage to the vehicles.

Meanwhile, a large number of students are also facing similar problems as the major government and private educational institutions are situated in the main city.   But, unfortunately, the city managers and the federal government seem reluctant to end the miseries of commuters as there is no permanent solution to the problem so far even after two years of the incumbent government in power. It was the previous government of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz that started the signal-free corridor project from Zero Point Islamabad to Rawat. However, it could only build it till Koral Interchange by developing four interchanges.

In its last year in power, the PML-N earmarked about Rs10 billion for completion of the signal-free corridor, however, the incumbent government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf had excluded the project from the Public Sector Development Programme. On the other side, the Capital Development Authority (CDA) also seems uninterested in completing the project as it just keeps changing the modes to complete the project. Once it was exploring the option to develop Islamabad Expressway with the help of private housing schemes in the area, then it wrote to the federal government for permission to complete the project with its own resources.  

Meanwhile, the federal government also included it into a list of projects that the government wants to complete through public-private partnership.

However, nothing could be materialised so far except the allocation of funds in PSDP 2020-21 but only for Korang Bridge and PWD underpass as immediate and interim relief.

Resultantly, Maqbool Associates – a construction company also employed to build BRT Peshawar project won the said contract to construct Korang Bridge and PWD underpass but the work on ground could not be started so far. When contacted, the Director Public Relations CDA Mazhar Hussain informed that the work on Korang Bridge and PWD underpass could not be started as the federal government has yet to release the promised funds under PSDP. When questioned why CDA is not carrying at least the repair of existing road as done in other parts of the city, he replied that they carry out patching but it again gets ruined in monsoon season due to heavy rain while there is a huge traffic flow which also damages the road.     According to an approved plan, in the second phase, the highway was to be expanded from Koral to Naval Anchorage – a 5km stretch in first package – while the 7km distance from Naval Anchorage to GT Road in Rawat is in the second package. It was decided that the existing four lanes from Koral Interchange to GT Road would be increased up to eight lanes by adding two rigid lanes and rehabilitating the flexible lanes. Three bridges – at Korang, Bhinder and the Railway stop – were also a part of the approved project in addition to the service roads.