Islamabad Expressway in spotlight for all wrong reasons

By Imran Naeem Ahmad

The Islamabad Expressway continues to be the center of attention for all wrong reasons, just over a week after its formal opening by Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani.

High-speed traffic, jaywalking, no footbridges, no fencing on its sides and traffic signals on its stretch mean that driving on this road is downright risky.

No wonder, Islamabad Citizens’ Committee (ICC) is taking up the lack of planning in the expansion of this road with Capital Development Authority (CDA). The response from official quarters though has not been encouraging.

In a bid to cover up its flaws in the making of this road completed at a cost of about Rs 877 million, the CDA has now opted to put up plastic-made speed bumps at some points.

It is clear that several fatal accidents on this road prompted them to do so, a step that reduces the very purpose of an expressway. On the other hand, it also goes to show that the CDA does not plan properly.

“It did not require rocket science for the CDA to come up with a good model and yet here we have a wide stretch of road journeying on which is fraught with danger,” said MK Sufi, a senior member of the ICC.

The planned pedestrian bridges may take months to come up, something that should have been an integral part of all road projects. “I think more than the bridges, subways will have been more appropriate,” said Chaudhry Iftikhar, resident of a locality bordering the expressway.

According to latest figures, 23 people have died in accidents on the expressway in recent months and still no serious measures seem forthcoming from the authorities.

ICC vs CDA: Sufi pointed to a lack of urgency at the official level in this regard. He said the ICC was calling for shutting down of U-turns and traffic signals. “They should definitely be closed,” he suggested.

The ICC also wants the CDA and the traffic authorities to deny people of colonies alongside the road direct access to the expressway. The residents are better to use the service road and come on to the main road only through two designated points, he said.

Sufi wondered why the authorities did not take into account all of this before going ahead with such a mega project, which he thought was actually meant for very important persons (VIPs) and not the public.

Daily Times, 27-Jan-09

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