Signal-free Srinagar Highway loses its utility

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Hundreds of commuters are stuck daily for hours at the choked and distant U-turns

Zubair Qureshi

The much-trumpeted signal-free Srinagar highway has made things easier for commuters and travellers of long distances yet those who intend to travel across the road are facing a daily ordeal to cross the u-turns which are not only at long distances but very few and thus always remain choked.

The Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Police in order to secure the route for the participants and dignitaries of the OIC Foreign Ministers’ Session had proposed to the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to implement the half-baked ‘Signal Free Srinagar Highway’ project without completion of overhead bridges or underpasses. According to sources, the measure was taken in haste for security reasons but it multiplied the citizens’ woes particularly the students, workers, labourers and office staff who have to daily travel from E, F and G sectors to the H and I and beyond.

Interestingly rather unfortunately, three main universities National University of Modern Languages (NUML), International Islamic University (IIU) and National University of Science & Technology (NUST) are situated across the road in H and I sectors and students from the E, F and G sectors and even those from D category have to wait for hours inside their buses, on bikes or cars at the U-turns among these sectors which remain choked during the rush hours.

“The plan has been implemented without due consideration for the residents of these sectors (above mentioned), said Farzana a university student and criticized the CDA and the administration for not increasing the number of u-turns. They thought only for the foreign guests and neglected their only public.

Earlier, in presence of signals we reached the universities in time but now the presence of the choked u-turns are making us crazy, said Nabeel another student.

A teacher of one of these universities said the CDA and the ITP should have thought that the road was quite a busy one and two or three u-turns were not going to do any good to those who have to daily cross it. They should have carried out a proper study first and see the artery remained choked not because of the signals but due to the overwhelming number of vehicles, he said.

Crossing the Srinagar Highway from a u-turn is a nightmare not only for students and teachers who reside along the two banks of the road but also for the labourers particularly the fruit and vegetable dealers. The Sabzi Mandi (Fruit & Vegetable Market) in I-10 sector remains busy almost all the day and the entire Islamabad’s vegetable dealers and fruit merchants bring their items from the market. Again closing the signals between the G and H sector has made them quite nervous rather furious as their small vehicles are asked by the traffic police of Islamabad to wait and let the schools, college and university buses pass first. This is unjust as our items get wasted if we wait for hours on the choke U-turns due to rise in temperature, said Aftab, a fruit seller in G-10.

An official of the CDA when contacted said the Signal Free Srinagar Highway was launched to save the time of commuters. In the beginning, it looks a tiring experience to wait at u-turns, but by and by people will get used to it, he said. About those who feel it difficult at the u-turns, he said they should take Agha Shahi Avenue for a smooth and hassle-free passage, he said.

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