Will Peshawar Mor Interchange see light of day any time soon?

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Principal interchange of federal capital still months away from completion despite official claims

Countless inauguration dates have lapsed, many deadlines have perished, and yet the Peshawar Mor Interchange is still far from completion.

The Rs 6.75 billion project was initiated to supplement the already up and running Rawalpindi-Islamabad Metro Bus project. The project, when completed, will provide signal free access to commuters who travel between the twin cities.

The location of the G-9 interchange, referred to by the residents and locals as Peshawar Mor Interchange is crucial and central. The massive amount of traffic from M-2 coupled with thousands of commuters travelling between the twin cities use this road. In the past long queues of traffic was a regular sight. The time spent on the signal ran into scores of minutes. There is no denying that an interchange was severely needed at the Peshawar Mor.

The total length of the overhead, underground and ramp roads of Peshawar Mor Interchange is approximately 14 km. The total number of flyovers to be constructed is eight. The project once completed will be Asia’s biggest interchange.

Although the interchange is situated in the heart of Islamabad, RDA (Rawalpindi Development Authority) is responsible for its construction. CDA has neither a stake nor a say in the project. The reason provided by authorities for this aberration is proximity and attachment of the interchange with Rawalpindi-Islamabad Metro Bus. This was inaugurated back in June, 2015 and is wholly functional.

The announcement of deadlines by the concerned officials comes on regular basis. Initially the interchange was to be opened along with Rawalpindi-Islamabad Metro Bus. But due to certain reasons it couldn’t be achieved. From then on deadline after deadline has been given by RDA and commissioner Rawalpindi Division. The deadline of October, 18, 2015 lapsed, and so did the one of December 2015.

The work progress in terms of percentage is estimated differently by different officials. According to Rawalpindi Commissioner Zahid Saeed, 60 per cent work on the project has been completed. RDA officials, however, claim that 95 per cent of the work has been done. What can be said for certain is that no one can say for sure when the delayed interchange will be opened for general public.

Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif ordered, once again, to expedite the work on the interchange and directed that it must be opened to the commuters by March. Only time will tell if this deadline goes the way of the previous ones or if the project will eventually see the light of day.

The people coming from Rawalpindi to Islamabad have been denied straight access to the city. They have to take the longish route around G-9 to reach their destinations. The apathy showed by the contractor and the authorities in this regard reeks of carelessness and omission. The cars and bikes and vans that use the Kashmir highway zigzag their way around the site in order to pass through the dusty, debris-filled, temporary patch of a road.

The concerned Executive Engineer, Wasim Tariq of RDA, who is handling the construction of Peshawar Mor Interchange told Pakistan Today that the interchange will be inaugurated in its entirety on March 23 for all traffic. When asked about the delays and the hiccups, the project has been replete with, he said that the unique design and the fact that the project was the first of its kind, and there were amendments made in the design by the NESPAK consultant from time to time, had caused the delay.

“The foremost concern for the engineers and the contractors was to give due heed to the aesthetic outlook of the whole project. The project had to reinforce the overall image of Islamabad as a green and beautiful city,” he added.

The project was dubbed ‘the biggest interchange in Asia’. It is a project that will not only resolve the woes of the commuters but also add charm to the already beautiful city, he said.

The concerned authorities do scapegoat the yesteryear ‘dharnas’ as the main reason why the interchange hasn’t been completed on time. The work on the project remained suspended for four whole months.

It is often said that what you hope is rarely realised. This is true for the Peshawar Mor Interchange. The work on the project is continuing at a snail’s pace. The zealous spirit shown by the creators of Metro Bus, which is again at display on the expansion of Islamabad Expressway is nowhere to be found at the site of the G-9 Interchange. The site wears a deserted, unfinished look. Scant number of workers can be seen doing menial work here and there. Machines are either static or moving around the place aimlessly. The project is months over deadline and from the looks of it, it is still months away from completion.

The whole enterprise of Peshawar Mor Interchange has fallen prey to neglect, mismanagement and procrastination of the government. The project was touted around as a mega project and one that was vital for the dwellers of the capital. However, the residents of Islamabad now see it as a bane around their necks, which just would not go away.