PWD Interchange In Islamabad Likely To Have The Same Fate As BRT Peshawar
There is some good news and a piece of bad news for Islamabad. The good news is that traffic woes of about two-thirds of its residents are going to be cut by half in the near future. The bad news is that the company notorious for building BRT in Peshawar has been awarded the contract to build the PWD Interchange that is bound to reduce traffic problems in Islamabad.
Much has been reported and speculated about how a certain minister from Karachi influenced the decision to award contract for the mega project to that notorious company. It may be hard for it to replay Peshawar destruction in Islamabad.
In addition to that company, there are other issues that need to be settled before construction of the interchange. A spokesperson of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) told me that the work on PWD Interchange has not stopped. He said it will pick up pace after monsoon rains in a couple of weeks and will be completed in six to seven months from now.
Roughly, Islamabad has a population of about three million people. It is generally estimated that about two million, two-thirds of them, live in the south of Karal Chowk, making Islamabad Expressway the busiest road of the federal capital.
There is a reason for extension of the city towards this end. First, it has an access to GT Road which makes it the thoroughfare in town. Second, the city managers had seemingly never accounted for too many people to throng Islamabad in the first place.
The federal capital is already falling apart at the seams with the bulge of one million people.
To cash in on the demand for housing, a variety of players jumped into the fray. They mindlessly built housing society upon housing society on both sides of the road, unconcerned with transportation and other needs of the potential residents.
In no time, building beasts replaced flowing crops that once flank this idyll road. The civic body took a lot of actions. It did not issue NOC to these societies and even cancelled NOCs for violation of regulations but to no avail.
Lust for quick bucks by land mafia gradually rendered this road a living hell for the masses. Finally and fortunately, the civic body got a chairman who is able to see beyond his nose in the person of Amer Ahmed Ali (AAA). AAA knows how to manage his city and where to get funds from. As a result, PWD Interchange has finally heaved into the realm of the possible after many a false start. It will reduce 40 percent traffic problems on this road. With the addition of loops to Naval Anchorage Interchange, traffic will be smoother than ever.
Meanwhile, the city’s mayor has reportedly allowed a private party to use the site for the PWD Interchange as some kind of a park in some kind of public-private venture. Now that party is a potential problem for this development project as it is reportedly unwilling to vacate the venue. Plus, you cannot miss perhaps the biggest billboard of the city installed nearby. It dangles like an ugly reality in the face of the regulations that discourage big billboards.
He has done such misadventures at a lot of places while the city is bearing their cost. Corruption charges have been levelled against him at all relevant platforms and NAB has taken up a corruption case against him. His solo flights have already created serious problems of coordination and liaison in the city administration.
Two million of the three million people of Islamabad are going to be directly affected by any such move as may compromise this project of very prime nature.
Hence, you can understand the politics and engineering of the PTI government in one single project of local nature and imagine what might have been the case with the national projects that the previous government had completed pending their formal openings.
Hassan Shahzad teaches media at public and private universities and regularly writes for Islamabad pages of The News. He holds a PhD in media studies.