ISLAMABAD: There is no tree cover on 64pc of the Islamabad Expressway, a report by the Capital Development Authority (CDA) has revealed. Overall, the expressway has 80pc green cover.

Separately, two Islamabad lawmakers were briefed by the CDA on Sunday on two new construction projects on the expressway.

The CDA’s report on buffer zones and green cover on the expressway and Srinagar Highway, which was recently presented to the cabinet, stated that there is no tree cover on 63.6pc of the expressway from Zero Point to Rawat.

There is tree cover on 16.4pc of the road.

However, overall there is 80pc green cover along the road, the report said, while 20pc of the area has other land features.

Also on Sunday, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on CDA Affairs Ali Nawaz Awan and his fellow Islamabad MNA Khurram Nawaz visited the sites of two upcoming construction projects - the expansion of Korang Bridge and the construction of the P.W.D. underpass - and were briefed by the CDA on both.

According to the CDA, the MNAs were told that both projects were initiated because of increasing traffic pressure on and future needs of the expressway.

The expansion of Korang Bridge will cost Rs659 million and the construction of the underpass will cost Rs428m.

Both projects will be completed with funding from the Public Sector Development Programme. The government has released Rs160m as the first instalment of funding for both projects, and subsequently the CDA on Sept 23 issued a letter of commencement for them.

Work is likely to begin in the next week, CDA officials said. They said the underpass will be finished in seven months while the bridge will take 15 months.

After the briefing, Mr Awan told the CDA that timely completion of both projects should be ensured in light of their significance.

He said that since traffic from the G.T. Road and adjoining areas uses the expressway to enter Islamabad, it is vital that both projects be completed early.

The expressway is a five-lane road that turns suddenly into a two-lane road near Koral, making it difficult for drivers to control their vehicles when they approach the bottleneck on Korang Bridge. Under this project, the bridge will be expanded to five lanes in order to ease traffic congestion.

The P.W.D. area is troubling because it is flanked by housing societies but CDA officials said an underpass will solve traffic problems on this portion of the road.

These two projects are considered short-term measures while, in the long term, the government through the CDA will expand the road from Koral to the G.T. Road under a public-private partnership.

The CDA has awarded the contract for both projects to a joint venture between Maqbool Associations and Colson, which bid below the estimated cost. The contract for the bridge was awarded for Rs628.5m, which is 17pc below the estimated cost, and the underpass for Rs428m, 19pc below the estimated cost.

CDA officials said while the contract is in the authority’s interests, the engineering wing is responsible for making sure there are no post-bid changes or revisions in the scope of the work to prevent the cost from increasing at a later stage, and that work is completed in the stipulated time frame.

Published in Dawn, September 28th, 2020