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 paperwork.
Capital Development Authority (CDA) sources, talking to APP, said that last year it had prepared a self-financed PC-1 of worth Rs21,000 million for widening this road by adding one more lane on each side from Koral to Rawat but later it was shelved due to the paucity of funds.
However, they said that the department again had to draft another PC-1 that was approved in PSDP 2018-19 with a cost of Rs10,000 million. The project was likely to get a green signal from ECNE in its next meeting, they said.
The sources said that the project would consist of two phases and Rs5,000 million was 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.
Shahzad Khalid, who daily travels 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 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.
He said that all the three lanes are seen most of the time occupied by the heavy trucks.
Quratul Ain, 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 Chaudhary said that the traffic jam was inevitable at this route because it had ten lanes up to Gulberg, but suddenly it narrowed down to four lanes causing severe traffic mess that creates a miserable condition for daily road-users.
He said that the signal-free corridor from Zero Point to Rawat should 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, “9 am and 5 pm are peak hours when the road bears heavy influx of traffic for the 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 that in worst case scenarios, trucks were being asked to line up on the roadside 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.
Another official of ITP said that the department was facing a dearth of machinery to remove broken down vehicles from the roads. It is not an issue of traffic management but a policy issue as the road leading up to Gulberg Chowk is five lane that shrinks to two lanes soon after, resulting in a traffic jam, he added.
“We are simply regulators and not the policymaker. Road widening is CDA’s job and unless the road is widened, this issue would continue to prevail as there is no other route or ring road for heavy traffic moving from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) to Punjab,” he said.