Approximately a fifteen minutes’ drive from Islamabad’s Convention Center lays Bara Kahu, once a sleepy rural community, which has over the years transformed itself into a densely populated suburb. A road bisects the town to provide access to what will one day be the National Botanical and Zoological Gardens and about fifteen kilometer onwards, the Simly Dam.

This Dam is a reservoir surrounded by pine clad hills, from where water is supplied to Islamabad. It is a beautiful and awesome spot, but does not attract local tourists. Some 80,000 homes are located on and around this road, listed on maps as Simly Dam Road. The majority of these residents are from local villages and hamlets, while others have built attractive homes away from the noise and pollution of city life. These farsighted people bought land and built houses in the wilderness, even as their friends and acquaintances rated them as having lost their marbles to forsake the comforts of city life. Ironically, it is the same friends and acquaintances, who now seek information as to availability of land and rates, much to the amusement of those first residents.

The hills on both sides of Simly Dam Road, especially the ones in the North are hauntingly beautiful. Lush green and dotted with fresh water springs, the area showcases wildlife such as wild hares, foxes, jackals, porcupines, mongooses and large lizards (known as Goh). Four years ago pug marks of a pair of leopards was spotted near a spring and villagers reported that some goats and dogs had gone missing. The bird life in the area is an ornithologists’ delight with brown and black partridges, sunbirds including the red breasted variety, yellow fluted bulbuls, mynahs, spotted doves, hoopoes, tree pies, a variety of robin and others, too numerous to list.

For residents and their visitors alike, living here is wonderful. It is in this world of natural beauty and tranquility, that a nightmare has raised its ugly head – Simly Dam Road and many of its offshoots have been rendered almost unusable. Thanks to the absence of storm drains, corrupt contractors, overflowing sewage and a leaking main water pipe line, driving on the road has become an ordeal that is taking its toll, not only on vehicles, but on human temperament and health.

There comes a stage in life, when limits of patience and frustration are reached. It is then that those, who are the victims of neglect, explode in anger. The residents living on Simly Dam Road and its offshoots are perhaps on this very point. Their state of mind is aggravated because the ruling party member of Parliament, elected from the constituency has during his two back to back tenures, never bothered to take stock of the situation.

While the government and the concerned MNA must be held responsible for what is happening, there is another ‘source’ that has caused widespread destruction of link roads that provide access to communities living in the hills, north of the road. Take for example the one that connects Kalma Chowk with the community living in an area known locally as Khasra 992. Heavy earth moving machinery and Dumpers belonging to a well-known developer that constructs ‘Towns and Enclaves’ has destroyed this road and repeated requests to the Company have only brought forth promises and lies. CDA will not carry out repair work claiming that it is private property. This has forced residents to raise the question as to who will alleviate their suffering as citizens.

I realize that as a column writer, my ambit is much wider. I should be dealing with national issues and not local matters such as the one highlighted in this week’s piece, but it is such small examples of poor governance that aggravate and spiral into situations, too hot to handle. Sagacious and popular rulers do not let this happen, for it is mitigation of problems that effect daily lives that alter voter perception whether a party deserves to rule for another term or otherwise. As one of my friends, who is most effected by the situation suggested, “I guess we should invite the Prime Minister for tea, emphasizing that he should drive. Simly Dam road and its offshoots will then get a new lease of life overnight”.