The ten-lane Islamabad Express Way falls short of bearing the traffic load during peak hours, especially due to the rising number of vehicles on the road, and poor traffic management.
It is becoming a routine that the traffic moves too slow or chokes at different junctions, despite it being the widest road the capital city. The Islamabad Traffic Police at times also falls short of ensuring a smooth flow of traffic.
Since there are major settlements emerging along the Express Way, and many people are shifting from the central city to suburbs, the number of vehicles has increased manifold in last couple of years. This situation is going to further aggravate in coming years due to continued development of colonies and towns along the Express Way from Koral Chowk onward to Rawat and beyond.
It is imperative that the authorities keep in mind the situation and widen the road from Koral Chowk to Rawat. Furthermore, the traffic management also needs to be improved and extra personnel should be deployed.
It has been noticed that at any point where a single vehicle breaks down or stops in the middle of the road the entire traffic becomes blocked. Commuters remain stuck even when they have to hurry to their destinations.
In such a situation, though a couple of police personnel are seen on site, usual violations by commuters often occur since no police personnel is found when two heavy vehicles run side by side and indulge in an overtaking violation.
Although, they remain present at intersections and efficiently manage the traffic load, when one passes these intersections, especially Koral Chowk to Rawat, one had to deal with several traffic violations because police patrolling on the narrow road is rarely seen.
It has been clearly written on signboards at Koral Chowk that heavy vehicles shall remain in the extreme left lane. However, it is very common for them to run in the extreme right lane, especially when they cross Koral Chowk and head towards Rawat and vice versa.
Another common practice seen on this heavily flooded road is that most of drivers prefer to drive in the extreme right lane – the overtaking lane. They not only do it with pleasure but also respond with annoyance when other vehicle drivers signal them to move and make way.
It is worth mentioning that a few months back the Islamabad Traffic Police had started a campaign to teach commuters about lane discipline. However, after a few days of hard work, the campaign stopped and once again and slow moving vehicles freely move in the fast lane.
Moreover, the three traffic signals on this road also create problems for commuters during peak hours and lines almost a kilometre long is seen on these traffic signals. Since the situation continues to change in terms of traffic during different hours of the day, the morning and evening times are crucial. It has been observed that a distance of almost 20 to 25 kilometres, which could earlier be travelled in 15 to 20 minutes, now takes 40 to 60 minutes.
As far as the route from Faizabad to Koral chowk is concerned, the situation may improve with the existing road if the police manage the traffic flow strictly as per rules.
Similarly, proper deployment along the section from Koral Chowk to Rawat to especially manage the rampant traffic rules violations by heavy traffic may bring some respite to other commuters.
However, this solution will be a temporary one and permanent remedy to the problem lies in nothing other than widening the road. Commuters believe that time has come to make the Express Way signal free, and at the same time ensure strict implementation of traffic rules.
This situation needs the immediate attention of the authorities, failing which the situation will worsen further and commuters will have to face usual traffic blockades.