RAWALPINDI, March 14: The Punjab government’s race to complete several road projects before its imminent departure has left Rawalpindi residents struggling with traffic, construction and congestion while government departments offer competing explanations for the delays.
Inaugurating the 6th Road Flyover on January 10, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif promised that its service roads would be open by February 10. Nearly a month later, they are still unusable, causing major inconvenience to residents and commuters, as official attention has shifted to the Pirwadhai Mor Flyover, where the construction company, the National Logistic Cell, and the Punjab Highway Department have all been busy.
The Highway Department has borne the brunt of residents’ anger. According to an official, however, it was the provincial government that insisted that work on the Pirwadhai Mor Flyover be completed “on a priority basis.” “They wanted it to be done on time for the PML-N government to inaugurate the flyover,” the official, who requested anonymity, claimed.
Jamshaid Khan, the department’s superintending engineer, had a different explanation, shifting the blame for slow progress on 6th Road to the Water and Sanitation Agency. “Work on the service roads was slowed down because Wasa had to shift water supply lines and build a mullah,” he said. Claiming that Wasa’s work had been completed, he said the Highway Department would “soon” finish the service road.
Rawalpindi residents are eager for the work to be finished, as construction at 6th Road in particular has caused major disruptions. Those who live on 6th Road have to go home via a marketplace; those who live in Dhoke Paracha are forced to use Sadiqabad Road and Iran Road. Congestion has increased commutes as well; a Sadiqabad resident, Abdul Rashid Minhas, claimed that his commute had increased by an hour.