Expressway-II Project gets attention of city bosses

ISLAMABAD, Dec 10:  The Rs6 billion project to expand the stretch between Koral Chowk and G.T. Road (Expressway-II) has luckily gotten the attention of the civic authority’s new management, entirely because it leads to the hometown of Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf.

According to details shared by an engineering wing official, Phase-II of the upgrade of the 12.5km long Expressway-II was not progressing because the authority is short on finances even though the project’s blueprint was completed by 2009.

Now the project’s financial survival hinges on Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, who “travels through the same road to visit his hometown Gujar Khan.”

CDA chairman Syed Tahir Shahbaz is expected to get in touch with PM Ashraf’s office about the financial needs of the project in coming days,” claimed an official close to the development.

It is pertinent to mention that Expressway-II from Koral Chowk to Rawat has an extremely high traffic volume and only two lanes running on either side.

“A number of housing societies have been issued development no-objection certificates from the CDA and the Islamabad Capital Territory administration, and so the traffic has increased twofold,” said an official of the Islamabad Traffic Police.

Farhan Mehboob, a resident of Pakistan Town, added: “I have to commute daily from my home to downtown Islamabad through this highway and the congestion is disturbing.”

He complained that sometimes a broken down truck adds to the misery of the daily commuters as the road is blocked up to miles because there is no alternative route in case of massive traffic jam.“We will positively take up the project details with the office of the Prime Minister since it would be benefiting thousands of vehicles entering daily from Rawat,” said a roads department official of the authority.

Commenting on the technical aspect of the project, the engineering official said: “The extension will have eight bridges (four bridges on both sides of the highway) and four flyovers.”

The official added that two out of five lanes would be constructed with concrete to bear heavy traffic load.

Meanwhile, a financial wing official at the authority’s headquarters warned that further delays would scale up the cost of the project.“We have to start expansion work on both the roads immediately,” he insisted.

The official said that the Expressway-II project was yet to be approved by Ecnec, the top economic decision-making body of the federal government.

“In the last two years, we have tried to get an assurance from the federal government to start the project but economic constraints and even the 2010 floods have hindered funding,” he said.

The financial wing official added that the CDA management would review proposals of how it could generate funding on public-private partnership (PPP) basis.

If the project is approved by CDA on PPP lines, “we may be able to complete the project in minimum two years if it’s approved by January next year,” he said.

Meanwhile, CDA spokesman Ramzan Sajid commented: “All projects, including Expressway-II extension, will be taken up at a development meeting at the CDA’s headquarters.”

The spokesman said such projects would be initiated on a speedy basis and “will be taken to the highest level to ensure smooth funding from the federal government.”