The Capital Development Authority (CDA) in Islamabad is experiencing setbacks in the progress of its development initiatives, with several key projects failing to meet their completion deadlines or progressing at a sluggish pace.
One such project, the Bhara Kahu Bypass, was inaugurated by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in October 2022 with a target completion date of January 2023. However, despite multiple extended deadlines, the project remains unfinished. Legal disputes with Quaid-i-Azam University and a series of accidents have contributed to the continuous delays.
The timely completion of this 5-kilometer road, including a 1-kilometer flyover, is crucial as it serves as a main route to popular tourist destinations such as Murree, Galiat, and Azad Jammu and Kashmir, experiencing increased traffic flow during the summer season. The project, worth Rs. 6.5 billion, starts from Murree Road near Quaid-i-Azam University and ends near the Jugi bus stop, adjacent to Punjab Cash and Carry. The flyover will span from Bhara Kahu bazaar to Murree. Similarly, the Margalla Avenue road project, originally slated for completion in June 2022, has faced significant delays, surpassing the additional six-month deadline extension.
While the project’s physical progress stands at 95% completion, except for a one-kilometer section, disputes with locals and the contractor have postponed the project’s scheduled inauguration in March 2023. The 10.4-kilometer-long Margalla Avenue road, costing Rs. 2 billion, spans from GT Road to D-12. Despite promises made by the CDA, there is currently no new announcement regarding the project’s completion.
Another major project, the overhaul and widening of IJP Road, has faced similar challenges. Originally set to be completed in April 2023, the CDA has failed to meet the deadline. Along with road renovation, the project, valued at Rs. 4.9 billion, includes the construction of two flyovers, two bridges, and seven culverts. The flyovers are planned for 9th Avenue and IJP Road, while the bridges will be built at Kattarian and Pirwadhai.
Furthermore, the construction work on the 10th Avenue project is nearly halted. Although the original completion date is set for September 2023, there is no visible progress on-site to meet the deadline.
The expansion of the Islamabad Expressway from Koral to T-Chowk on G.T. Road is also progressing at a slow pace, causing persistent traffic issues. The project seems to have been overlooked by the CDA.
Insiders from the CDA’s engineering wing reveal that after a change in government last year, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif prioritized development projects in Islamabad. However, due to his political commitments and two changes in CDA chairmanship within a year, the progress of the development works suffered. Many projects initiated under the ambitious deadlines set during former Chairman Amir Ali Ahmed’s tenure were progressing rapidly when he left the authority. His successor, Muhammad Usman, efficiently managed these projects until his departure from the CDA.
Regrettably, the current Chairman, Noor-ul-Amin Mengal, has been unable to give full attention to the development projects, resulting in ongoing delays. Kamran Qurashi, Assistant Director of Public Relations at the CDA, acknowledged the delays in the Bhara Kahu Bypass due to consecutive incidents. He also mentioned that Margalla Avenue has been completed but is facing certain issues that are being addressed. Regarding the IJP Road, he stated that it will be completed on the 29th, with a one-month delay due to additional work.
In regards to the Islamabad Expressway, he noted that Phase I of the signal-free corridor is delayed, while Phase II remains on track. Additionally, he mentioned that the 10th Avenue project is encountering challenges related to encroachments and government funding.