Sunday July 14, 2024

Long wait nearing the end

By Mobarik A Virk
August 18, 2017

ISLAMABAD: When the work on the Sohan and the Khana interchanges project was started, Sheikh Anser Aziz,  the Chairman, Capital Development Authority (CDA), who also is the elected Mayor of Islamabad, had announced that it would be completed and opened for free-flow of traffic by December 31, 2017. An ambitious target set indeed!

The way the CDA had completed the Karal Chowk inter-change earlier this year, it was believed that this task of completing the project on or ahead of the scheduled date of completion would also be accomplished.

Sohan and the Khana inter-changes are the Package-3 of the ‘Signal Free Corridor’ of Islamabad from ‘T-Chowk on G-T. Road to Faisal Chowk on Khayaban-e-Iqbal (Margalla Road). Work on both the segments of this Package-3 is going on simultaneously but it is being taken up more aggressively at Sohan Interchange to eliminate yet another traffic signal on the project.

Work on both segments of this project (Khanna and Sohan) was started in April this year with the official deadline for completion of both the segments of this package is December 31, 2017. But more attention was paid to the Sohan Interchange, which is now likely to be completed and the signal removed by 1st October, 2017.  However, around here we have so many unforeseen factors and unpredicted happenings/events which directly or indirectly impact such deadlines!

We have no reason to doubt regarding any deliberate moves or some sort of ‘go slow’ towards meeting the completion deadline for this project. In fact we practically observed, or shall we say ‘monitored’ the progress almost on daily basis (I happen to pass through this point at least twice a day, 7 days a week).

However, except the monsoon rains, the holy month of Ramzan and the eid holidays, the work on this part of the project is continuing at a pretty much faster pace. Another halt in work is likely to hit the project with the upcoming Eidul Azha and according to the people engaged with the project, it may cause a 10-day break in work.

Anser Aziz, when contacted about the progress on the Sohan Interchange, where one of the last two traffic signals now exist on this ‘Signal Free Corridor’, said that every effort was being made to complete this segment of the Package-3 by October 1, 2017.

“Once it is completed and thrown open for traffic from all sides, it will further ease the flow of traffic on the Islamabad Highway. There may be some clogging of traffic at the security check point established immediately after passing the Faizabad interchange while entering Islamabad. But that also could be streamlined with the help and assistance of Islamabad Traffic Police (ITP),” Anser Aziz said.

When contacted, the Project Director of ‘Signal Free Corridor’, Engineer Mumtaz Hussain said that weather permitting every effort is being made to lay the 36 girders on the inter-change before Eid holidays starts.

“There are 36 girders of 39 meters length each, which are ready for installation. We have already made the preliminary preparations of laying them on bridge and two portions of the green belt between the Highway have already been cleared for movement of the vehicles transporting these girders,” Engineer Mumtaz Hussain told The News.

“We are likely to start installing these girders over this week-end (from Saturday) and it would take at least 10 days to lay all the 36 girders. Once this task is accomplished before the Eid holidays start, the rest of the work will not be much difficult to complete. We hope that this part of the project will be completed in all respects and thrown open to traffic from all directions, with the signal at Sohan chowk removed,” the project director added.

He said that the work on the ‘Khanna segment’ of the package is also going on. It would be a bigger project like the Garden Avenue intersection or the Karal Chowk intersection, a full ‘clover-leaf’ interchange.

“The girders for ‘Khanna Interchange are ready and we hope to complete that segment by the scheduled date of December 31,” Engineer Mumtaz Hussain said.