LAHORE – The ratio of traffic accidents will multiply within a decade if all the four-lane motorways are not upgraded to six-lanes as the traffic volume has increased alarmingly in the past 10 years across the Punjab, TheNation has learnt.

“Around 543,330 road accidents took place on various roads throughout the province since 2004, out of which about 181,043 accidents have taken place in Lahore, whereas 21,875 occurred in Rawalpindi, 62,802 in Faisalabad, 34,766 in Multan and about 40,462 in Gujranwala during the above said duration,” Rescue-1122 spokesman said.

The rescue service was playing its pivotal role but other departments especially the NH&MP should tackle the situation timely otherwise the ratio may cross manifold within a decade, the spokesman further added.

The entire existing motorways setup was established with a small unit some 14 years ago in Lahore. Currently, around 10 major motorways are operational across the country whereas five other interlinked motorways are also in national highways network in order to divert traffic volume from major motorways. Only three motorways including M-1 (Peshawar-Islamabad), M-2 (Islamabad-Lahore) and M-9 (Hyderabad-Karachi) are six-lane.

Furthermore, M-4 (Faisalabad-Multan), M-8 (Ratodero-Gwadar), E-35 (Hasanabdal-Mansehra Expressway) are under construction whereas M-5 (Multan-Dera Ghazi Khan), M-6 (Dera Ghazi Khan-Ratodero), M-7 (Dadu-Dureji-Hub), M-9 (Hyderabad-Karachi) and Torkham-Peshawar Expressway are planned to be built in future.

“Now traffic volume has increased manifold but roads are shrinking. Although NH&MP officers are being facilitated on all fronts but their wish to be posted in nearby areas of their hometowns is unacceptable,” a Motorway Police officer said.

“Yes, it was a big problem I confronted and this may create several problems in future if not addressed properly,” an ex-DIG M-5 Center Zone Fateh Sher Joiya told this reporter. “I think each officer of NH&MP should be given a chance throughout his entire professional career to choose his posting in his native town either,” he added.

Talking about other issues, the DIG said traffic volume was expanding while the motorways were becoming insufficient to bear that burden. “Bus stands should be established before constructing any road and chapters on driving should be included as special courses in text books to create awareness among the masses,” he opinioned.

Until September 2011, the operational motorways comprised total length of 680 km with another 278 km under-construction and at least 1,200 km have been further planned. Motorways are essential parts of the Pakistan’s National Trade Corridor Project, which aims to link Pakistan’s three Arabian Sea ports including Karachi Port, Port Bin Qasim, and Gwadar Port to the rest of the country and further north with Afghanistan, Central Asia and China.

The Motorway Police (MP) was established in 1997, which proved a very successful experience. Later, the entire setup of national highways was handed over to the department, which changed the MP to NH&MP. The NH&MP uses SUVs, cars and heavy motorbikes for patrolling and for the enforcement of traffic and safety laws, security and recovery on the motorway network.