CDA fails to reap full benefit of two mega road projects

Published April 18, 2024
Blocks have been placed on the Sabzi Mandi flyover on Karnal Sher Khan Avenue in Islamabad to prevent heavy vehicles from plying on it. — White Star
Blocks have been placed on the Sabzi Mandi flyover on Karnal Sher Khan Avenue in Islamabad to prevent heavy vehicles from plying on it. — White Star

ISLAMABAD: The reluctance of the authorities to allow heavy traffic on two key roads – the 5km-long Bhara Kahu bypass and Karnal Sher Khan Avenue (formerly I.J.P Road) – despite spending billions of rupees on these projects has resulted in a question mark on the reliability of these projects.

These projects were executed by the National Logistic Cell (NLC) and inaugurated by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif during his first tenure last year. The bypass has proved a blessing for commuters who can now skirt the traffic mess in Bhara Kahu, particularly during summer and special occasions. But to reap the maximum benefits of this project, the Capital Development Authority (CDA) needs to allow the heavy traffic on this road.

“Billions of rupees were spent on this project, but we cannot understand why it is not opened for heavy vehicles; is the CDA afraid of extra load,” asked Luqman Khan, a driver.

This project was completed in 10 months as the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) government wanted to complete it during its tenure. The original cost of the project was Rs6.5 billion, but the scope of the project was expanded which resulted in an increase in its cost. Recently, the CDA board was told that the NLC had moved a bill of Rs1.8 billion against the additional work.

Officials say roads to be opened to heavy traffic soon, cite traffic management issues behind delay

The CDA had referred the bill to the consultant firm of the Punjab government, which endorsed the additional work and recommended the approval of Rs1.3 billion. The board after approving the recommendation directed the engineering wing to place the issue before the CDA’s Development Working Party (DWP) for the final approval.

Like the bypass road, the overhauling and expansion project of the 8.5-kilometre-long I.J.P. Road cost Rs5 billion. It has two major flyovers – one near Sabzi Mandi and the second in front of 9th Avenue. Sabzi Mandi flyover is closed for heavy traffic whereas the flyover next to the 9th Avenue has developed rutting due to the load of heavy traffic vehicles.

According to the CDA officials, the Bhara Kahu bypass and the I.J.P. flyover would be opened for heavy traffic “soon after the resolution of the traffic management issues”.

They said that due to “technical” reasons heavy traffic was not allowed on these roads at present.

The officials said the flyover on the I.J.P. Road was opened for traffic but it was later closed due to a fear of road accidents. They said the heavy vehicle moving on a rigid lane could not change lanes after crossing the flyover due to the traffic mess outside the nearest bus stand. The CDA member engineering visited the site recently and asked the officials concerned to resolve the issue of traffic management.

Speaking about the Bhara Kahu bypass, the officials said the contractor NLC was directed to take necessary measures after the recommendation of the consultant. The officials claimed the bypass road would be opened for the heavy traffic as soon as possible.

To a query, about rutting on the 9th Avenue flyover, the official said that it was being repaired and initial work had been done. “When the temperature will increase up to 30 degrees Celsius, asphalt will be laid on it since the procedure is not recommended during rainy days as per the standards engineering protocols, he claimed.

CDA spokesperson Nauman Khalid said that the authority was aware of both issues and the engineering wing had already been directed to get the bypass and the flyover in question opened for heavy traffic after resolving the traffic management issue. “The contractor of the bypass road has already started working for the traffic management while a way forward is being finalised for the flyover as well for the ease of the motorists,” he said.

Published in Dawn, April 18th, 2024

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