ISLAMABAD: The Planning Commission has finally allowed Capital Development Authority (CDA) to construct the PWD underpass and widen Korang bridge on Islamabad Expressway to ease traffic on the busy artery.
In the second phase, the highway will be widened from Koral to GT Road.
Sources said at a recent meeting of the Central Development Working Party (CDWP) of the Planning Commission, it was decided that work on Koral to GT Road will be carried out in two phases.
The construction of PWD underpass and expansion of Korang bridge will be carried out in the first phase through the upcoming Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP).
“Keeping in view the acute public need and large numbers of complaints about traffic congestion from commuters, widening of Korang bridge and construction of the PWD underpass could be taken up for PSDP funding.
In second phase, Islamabad Expressway will be widened from Koral to GT Road, says official
The deputy chairman Planning Commission directed that a separate PC-I for the underpass and the bridge to eight lanes be prepared by the CDA which will be placed before the interior ministry’s DWP,” read minutes of the CDWP meeting held on March 30. The minutes were issued a few days ago.
“After receiving minutes of CDWP, the CDA submitted PC-I to the interior ministry for the upcoming DWP. Now it’s a matter of hardly one week to get approval of the DWP,” said Special Assistant to Prime Minister on CDA Affairs Ali Nawaz Awan.
He said within one month after approval of the PC-I from the interior ministry, work would be started at the site.
“Since already allocated Rs450 million under PSDP for the ongoing fiscal year are available for the project, without waiting for the upcoming PSDP we will start work at the site,” he said and added that the tender for the project was likely to be called in two weeks.
When contacted, CDA Member Planning and Engineering Dr Shahid Mahmood said PC-I worth Rs1.7 billion for PWD underpass and Korang bridge had been submitted to the ministry of interior.
To a query, he said designs of both the components of the project were already finalised on the direction of the CDA chairman.
“After approval of PC-1without any delay we can call the tender,” he said, adding the proposed completion time of the project was one year provided funds were released.
Meanwhile, according to minutes of the CDWP meeting, it was decided that the remaining portion of the expressway – its widening from Koral to GT Road – will be taken up under the public-private partnership basis. CDA engineers said after execution of the first project the traffic congestion will be resolved to a significant extent.
But they said the CDA ordinance did not allow the civic agency to go for Built, Operate and Transfer (BOT) or public-private partnership.
“Secondly, we believe there is no need for going for public private mode as it is unnecessary. A proposal was already floated by the federal government to look into the option of leasing out right of way of the expressway to private sector. The right of way of the road is considered as lungs of Islamabad so instead of this mode the CDA should be asked to sell just two commercial plots to execute the last portion of the project,” said a director of the CDA, wishing not to be named.
The CDA recently shared its request for proposal (RFP) document with Public Private Partnership Authority and National Highway Authority (NHA) to get their input to hire a consultant. The consultant will carry out feasibility study to check if widening of the road from Koral to GT Road through private sector was feasible or not.
The portion of expressway from Koral to GT Road is congested and dilapidated which needs immediate expansion. Earlier, the CDA had estimated that the entire project will be completed at a cost of Rs10 billion and the previous PML-N government in its last budget had earmarked Rs7 billion for the project but later the PTI government dropped IT.Therefore, CDA in a bid to give immediate relief to motorists decided to construct Korang bridge and PWD underpass through its own funding (to be returned by the federal government later).
However, The Planning Commission did not allow the CDA to carry out the work from its own funds.
Published in Dawn, April 21st, 2020