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ISLAMABAD: The city managers have shelved the Bhara Kahu bypass project and are now proposing the construction of the Margalla Avenue up to the Murree-Islamabad Expressway.

A couple of years ago, on the directives of the then prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, Capital Development Authority (CDA) had decided to construct the Bhara Kahu bypass to ease the growing traffic congestion on Murree Road, in Bhara Kahu.

The portion of Murree Road which passes through Bhara Kahu faces a lot of traffic congestion, especially during weekends in the summers when tourists head towards Murree.

Federal Minister for Capital Administration and Development Division Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry has said on several occasions that the bypass will be made.

An extension to Margalla Avenue till Murree-Islamabad Expressway will be made instead

Last year, he told Dawn that CDA will execute and complete the project during the tenure of the current government.

Sources in the CDA say the civic agency is facing funding issues which is why the federal government had decided to hand the project over to the National Health Authority (NHA) a couple of years ago, but it was given to the CDA again last year.

“Instead of starting the bypass project, we are starting work on an extension of Margalla Avenue, which will pass through one side of Bhara Kahu to link it with the Islamabad-Murree Expressway,” said Member Engineering Sajjad Zaidi. He said a PC-II worth Rs95 million has been prepared.

“We will soon engage a consultant for this project,” he said, adding that the project for extending Margalla Avenue is more feasible than the bypass project.

He said that the extension project will also ease traffic congestion on Murree Road.

The CDA has not made any serious attempts to start the bypass project the last three years and wasted much time in deciding the route for the road.

They had plans for the bypass to start from Shahdhara stop on Murree Road and end at Ghugi stop near the girls’ degree college and there were also plans for the bypass to end at the Murree-Islamabad Expressway at the Satra Meel stop.

CDA officials Dawn spoke to said that in 2016, they were working seriously on the bypass when the premier had suddenly directed the NHA to take it over instead. The CDA had therefore lost interest in the project.

According to tentative CDA estimates, the three kilometre bypass will cost Rs1.8 billion if it starts from Shahdhara to Ghugi and it would cost Rs2.2 billion if it is constructed between Shahdhara and Satra Meel, as it will be seven kilometres.

However, CDA has now decided to shelve the project altogether.

“This is unfortunate. During their election campaign, the PML-N had promised to construct the road and the fate of the Margalla Avenue will probably be the same as well,” said Bilal Khan, a shopkeeper in Bhara Kahu.

He said there are bad traffic congestions on Murree Road in Bhara Kahu due to un-regulated commercial buildings on either side of the road.

There are also no proper parking spaces in the area and encroachments add to the traffic problem as well.

Published in Dawn, May 17th, 2018