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October 14, 2019

Deadline for constructing six flyoversover Sher Shah Suri Road missed again

Karachi

October 14, 2019

The extended deadline of mid-July to August for the construction of six flyovers over Sher Shah Suri Road in District Central of Karachi has also come and gone.

The district’s residents have been leading a miserable life since the massive construction activity for the Green Line Bus Rapid Transit System started in early 2016 by the then federal government of Nawaz Sharif.

After getting the project’s dedicated track from Surjani Town to Guru Mandir almost completed over a period of more than two years, the Centre-mandated Sindh Infrastructure Development Company Limited (SIDCL) started construction of six additional flyovers — two each at the three intersections over Sher Shah Suri Road in North Nazimabad — in November 2018.

Sher Shah Suri Road starts from Abdullah Morr in Surjani Town and runs all the way to Lasbela. After the construction of the flyovers at the Sakhi Hassan, Five Star and KDA roundabouts on both sides of the elevated road, a 15-kilometre signal-free corridor will be developed. But Power House Chowrangi, which is often choked up with traffic during rush hours, will get no flyover.

The construction of these flyovers has become the most glaring example of bad planning in the city. The authorities seem to have dug up roads and streets in no time for the construction work, but without providing alternative routes for the traffic.

According to the plan, the construction work was supposed to be completed between mid-July and August, which was already an extended deadline. An official of the SIDCL, on the condition of anonymity, told The News that the new deadline has been set as mid-November to early December.

By the time the first deadline was missed, Sher Shah Suri Road, one of the busiest thoroughfares of the city, had turned into a wide muddy pathway full of ditches and potholes. “Rain wreaked havoc in the area,” said a motorcyclist Farid Ahmed.

Ahmed said that when the recent spell of rain in the city finally ended, they realised that the road has “disappeared off the face of the earth. One can’t call this a road, where cars, motorbikes or rickshaws can’t even move”.

As the federal, provincial and local governments had not properly planned before digging up Sher Shah Suri Road for the construction of the flyovers, no suitable alternative arrangements were made for the traffic, turning the commute experience in North Nazimabad excruciating. The alternative routes provided by the authorities are derelict and have huge speed breakers, which halt traffic for hours, especially at the Sakhi Hassan, Five Star and KDA roundabouts.

When work was under way on Green Line, the SIDCL submitted an environmental impact assessment report to the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency, stating that the construction activities for the project were likely to cause hindrances in the flow of traffic if not dealt with properly.

“A temporary traffic management plan will be developed and submitted by the contractor at least one month before commencement of construction. The main objectives of the plan shall be to maximise the safety of the workforce and the travelling public. The main secondary objective will be to [allow] traffic [to flow] as freely as possible,” read the report.

It was further mentioned in the report that measures needed to be taken to deal with the traffic issues due to work on Green Line, which included ensuring lane availability and minimisation of traffic flow at the work site, allowing diversion routes where necessary, and informing the commuters about any deviations and closure of roads through standard signs.

Ironically, most of these measures were not followed properly during Green Line’s construction. Right now this report may not be exactly applicable to the six flyovers being constructed simultaneously, but it is the standard procedure to remove all the speed breakers and ditches from the alternative routes to ensure maximum flow of traffic.

Central District Municipal Corporation Chairman Rehan Hashmi told The News that the original deadline for the completion of these flyovers was March. “We really don’t know when the federal government is going to get done with these flyovers.”

Hashmi lamented that during the entire construction activity of Green Line and now of these flyovers, the SIDCL provided no proper alternatives, signboards, lights and other road safety methods for commuters. He said that dozens of letters were written to the company concerned but no response was received to date.

The SIDCL official said the work halted there because of unprecedented rainfall in the city. “There were issues of underground utilities,” he explained, saying that several utility agencies were not cooperating with them.

“There’s also extreme high flow of traffic on the road, due to which we only get late night hours to work,” he lamented. When asked about the miserable condition of the alternative routes provided, he said the company carpeted the service roads, but after the rainfall, those roads were also damaged.

Rehabilitation

Hashmi stressed that the SIDCL should reconstruct the entire Sher Shah Suri Road and must not leave after inaugurating Green Line and the six flyovers.

Responding to this, the SIDCL official said a proposal is under consideration for the rehabilitation of the entire road along with the service road, but it is yet to be approved by the federal government.

The official added that the SIDCL is also going to talk to the Karachi Development Authority’s Traffic Engineering Bureau for the installation of traffic signals under the six flyovers so that the movement of traffic remains smooth.

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