Lahore: Delay in constructing the Multan Road – from Sundar to Manga Mandi – has claimed over 10 lives in over one year, leaving several others injured in accidents and damaging vehicles plying the road. It is pertinent to mention that the condition of Multan Road from Sundar to Sahiwal is also dilapidated, adding to the woes and miseries of the people. The 12-kilometer stretch of the national highways ñ from Sunder to Manga Mandi ñ has been under construction for the last one year and has been a source of great inconvenience for road-users. According to official statistics of the Motorway Police, almost 10 people have died so far and many suffered physical and financial loss in numerous accidents.
There are ditches on the road which have not been properly filled so far. A senior Motorway Police official, requesting anonymity, said that (technically) wrong construction of U-turns was resulting in major accidents, causing loss of life and property. He added that the areas having the improper U-turns included EME, Chung, International Container, Mohlanwal, Sunder, Manga Mandi, Sarfraz Nagar, Dinanath, Siraye Cheemba, Phoolnagar Bypass, Jamber, Gharyal Mor and Pattoki Sugar Mills. The officials said that blind spots, known as permanent accidents or death points, also exist on busy highways because of (technically) wrong construction. One of the blind spots is a turn on Bhoneki Mor, renamed as Khatarnak Mor (dangerous turn) situated between Jamber and Pattoki.
Another official of the Motorway police said that, during the last 15 years, countless accidents had occurred on this single spot (Sundar to Manga Mundi) but the National Highway Authority (NHA) had not paid any heed to the grave situation. Absence of road furniture and lane-marking is another feature on the Multan Road which has made the driving very tough, especially at night. Proper marking of yellow line is very useful during fog and many accidents can be prevented by it. Unfortunately, this useful yellow marking is either missing or has become very dim. Cat eyes which are greatly helpful for driving, especially at the night, are also missing on most of the road.
The dilapidated condition of Overhead Bridge at Habibabad has also become the hub of many problems ñ from chocking of traffic to major accidents. Last three major accidents caused around 50 deaths at this single point. The service roads in the populated areas are damaged and local people have developed encroachments on them. There is no safety grill installed in most of populated areas to stop the pedestrians from crossing the road. Similarly, traffic regulatory sign boards installed on the road are in very shabby condition. The hard shoulder, besides the main carriage way, has totally deteriorated and needs repair badly.
It is also worth mentioning here that the National Highways Authority is a resourceful department which has many sources of revenue generation in the form of collection of toll plazas, weigh stations, motorway fine collection, advertisements on highways, etc. A senior officer of the Motorway Police said that, keeping in view the importance of road communication in boosting the trade and minimizing the distances and its role in economic growth, it was time for the National Highway Authority (NHA) high ups to take serious notice of the prevalent bad conditions of the road. A prompt and effective action is the need of the hour, not only to save many precious lives but also cement economic and social ties between different segments of the society, the official maintained.
It is also learnt that the National Highways and Motorway Police (NH&MP) has requested the high officials of National Highway Authority (NHA) repeatedly to complete the construction of the said road but to no avail. This correspondent tried to contact Federal Minister for Communications Dr. Arbab Alam Dastagir but his cell phone was switched off. The correspondent also contacted the state minister for communications, Imtiaz Safdar Waraich. His operator attended the phone and said that the state minister was busy in a meeting.