ISLAMABAD - Travelling daily on Islamabad Expressway from Koral to Rawat or vice versa has become a nightmare for commuters where traffic remains clogged for hours with apparently no practical solution in the sight.

The route claimed to be a signal free facility by 2017, seems to remain a quagmire for daily commuters even in 2018 as authorities concerned are restricted to only paper work.

CDA's Director of Road Directorate North Tahir Mehmood talking to APP said last year it had prepared a self-financed PC-1 of worth Rs 21,000 million for widening this road by adding one more lane on each side from Koral to Rawat but later it was shelved due to paucity of funds.

However, he said that the department again had to draft it’s another PC-1 that was approved in PSDP 2018-19 with a cost of Rs 10,000 million.

The project was likely to get green signal from ECNE in its next meeting, he added. Tahir said that the project would consist of two phases and Rs 5,000 million were earmarked for each phase.

The area from Koral to Naval Anchorage would be constructed in the first phase while remaining part would be covered in the second phase.

“We have invited pre-qualification from contractors and evaluation of application is under process that will be finalised by May 23.”

“According to CDA’s law, the tender has to be offered within 15 days of applications’ evaluation. The project will be kicked off by third week of June after award of the tender to the qualifier," he informed.

Maqsood Satti, who daily commutes from Bahria Town to Sector F-8 said that it was a nerve-testing job to reach office in time or get back home in an urgency and a lot of time was being wasted behind the queues of heavy vehicles.

He said that there was no other solution to this mess except construction of a ring road on both sides of the route.

Satti said all the three lanes are seen most of the time occupied by the heavy trucks. Aleena Ilyas, a working journalist who has to travel daily from Media Town to Islamabad said, “You cannot determine your time destination while reaching office or getting back home. It has become a daily routine." Expressing dismay over the situation, she remarked, "It will never be changed.”

Deputy Superintendent of ITP Arshad Chudary said that the traffic jam was inevitable at this route because it had ten lanes upto Gulberg but suddenly it narrowed down to four lanes causing severe traffic mess that creates miserable condition for daily road-users.

He said that the signal free corridor from Zero Point to Rawat was required to be completed as early as possible to get rid of this daily suffering.

He categorically said, "Adding one more lane will not serve to the cause as a permanent solution."

He said, “9am and 5pm are peak hours when the road bears heavy influx of traffic for public that moves from and to their offices and residences".

Responding to a question, he said that the heavy traffic from Islamabad Expressway during the peak hours was being diverted towards Gulberg’s round-about to let the light vehicles use fast lane.

Arshad said in worst case scenarios trucks were being asked to line up on road side to keep light traffic moving to clear the passage.

The ITP, he informed, had deputed two Inspectors and eight officials on this route, working round the clock for the ease of road-users.

A traffic sergeant at PWD stop said that two narrow bridges and a couple of U-turns on this passage were major reasons of daily gridlocks on this heavily burdened artery.