We hear our political stalwarts planning to extend the motorway from Lahore to Karachi; spending over a trillion rupees on this high profile project. No doubt it would be useful, but in our current economic position it would be wiser to achieve as much as possible incurring the least cost. The National Highway N-5 is Pakistan’s longest and most important highway with a total length of 1756 KM. Its northern part was included in the ancient Grand Trunk road, commonly known as GT road. In mid 1990, N-5 was converted into a four lane highway. Today it runs from Peshawar to Karachi and is the only road that bears the brunt of 80% of the traffic load of the entire country.

However this National Highway has become an apology to its glorious past. I have travelled on it from Lahore to Multan route quite often and it is a test in tolerance; it does have a few patches one can call road but the rest of it is all cracks and potholes. There are only two lanes, with the fast lane occupied by 18 to 22 wheel behemoths. Hence impatient drivers overtake from the dirt road causing clouds of dust to rise that block visibility for preceding vehicles. This heavy traffic makes the journey hazardous and painfully slow. To call it a highway now by any standard would be a mockery of the concept of the highway. Simply by repairing this road and adding a third lane to it we can improve its productivity.

We can have Traffic Police as we have on the Motor Way to help guide our commuters, the passage of tractors and trolleys should be restricted from the fast lane. Crossings should not be perpendicular to the main stream of traffic flow; rather vehicles should utilize U-turns to cross to their intended direction. This will all ensure safe and quick movement. Importantly it will be one tenth the cost of the motorway project and will be much quicker to finish. The resultant cut in travelling time and cost will help to lower prices of goods and aid the revival of our moribund economy rather than put further strain upon it.


Lahore, November 24.