- Pedestrians crisscross through heavy traffic due to insufficient overhead bridges
- Govt prefers to rid the capital of encroachments, avoids completing infrastructure projects
ISLAMABAD: Everyday thousands of pedestrians from around the city’s crowded thoroughfares have to cross the Jinnah Avenue, the Blue Area, the Kashmir Highway, the Islamabad Expressway and others on foot or through gaps in the fences erected on both the sides as they crisscross through heavy traffic on the roads due to insufficient number of overhead bridges.
The Islamabad Expressway, a 20-kilometre long highway from Zero Point to Rawat which is all set to be made signal-free at a cost of 22 billion rupees, has overhead bridges for the pedestrians that are both few and far between. Also, majority of the bridges connect the towns and the societies located on both the sides and are used by the traffic. The incidents where the pedestrians have lost lives have become norm.
On September 15, an eight-year-old teenager was killed in a traffic accident as he was crossing the road with his family. Even worst is the situation at the Jinnah Avenue where not a single out of seven bus stations namely the Katchehri Station, PIMS Station, Saudi-Pak Tower Station, 7th Avenue, Shaheed-e-Millat Station, Parade Ground and the Secretariat have overhead bridges for the pedestrians who have to travel to and from one side of the Blue Area to another on foot.
Many opt for broken fences as the Blue Area, being the hub of commercial activity in the capital, is home to hundreds of the government and the private organisations. On the other hand, all the bus stations in Rawalpindi and the IJP Road Station, Pothohar Station, Khyaban-e-Johar, Faiz Ahmed Faiz Station, Kashmir Highway, Chamman and the Ibn-e-Sina Station have overhead bridges since the very inception of the Rawalpindi-Islamabad Metrobus.
The Kashmir Highway that starts from the Islamabad Motorway Interchange and runs through the city has recently seen construction of the Islamabad Metro Bus extension that will connect the Islamabad-Rawalpindi Metro Bus with the Islamabad International Airport. The work on the project is moving at snail’s pace for the past six months as new government has preferred to rid the city of encroachments rather than completing infrastructure projects.
At present, no overhead bridge has been constructed on the seven-kilometre long stretch of the Metro Bus extension and the pedestrians can be seen crossing the road on foot, endangering their lives and limbs. Jinnah Avenue, running across F and G sectors, is the most plied road in the capital. In the absence of the overhead bridges, the pedestrians have no other option but to cross the eight-lanes of the Jinnah Avenue and the Metrobus track to reach the other side.
In the absence of the overhead bridges, the gaps left in the fences of the Metrobus is the only way to reach the other side. The situation is alarming as during the year 2015 alone, eight thousand road accidents in Islamabad involved pedestrians. “I work as an office assistant, my job involves delivering files and running other errands across the Jinnah Avenue many times a day,” said Shahbaz Ahmed, who works in a private media outlet in Blue Area.
He said that the shortest way to the other side was crossing the road and the Metrobus track through gaps in the fences. “It is dangerous due to speeding traffic but what other choice do I have. I request the Capital Development Authority and the senior Metrobus officials to install the overhead bridges on an appropriate distance to facilitate thousands like me,” he said.