RAWALPINDI: Even though the main passenger services may have shifted from the Benazir Bhutto International Airport (BBIA) in Rawalpindi to the new Islamabad International Airport (IIA) in Fateh Jang, the main road outside the airport remains a busy thoroughfare and sees a number of accidents.
In this regard, Prime Minister Imran Khan has taken notice and has directed to build at least four pedestrian bridges on the four-kilometre-long stretch.
The notice was taken after local MNA from NA-60 Rawalpindi-IV, Sheikh Rashid Shafique of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) wrote to Prime Minister Imran Khan.
In the letter, Shafique stated that every month, at least four people either die or suffer grievous injuries while trying to cross this road. While there are a few crossing points and overhead pedestrian bridges, they are not enough due to the high volume, and high speeds of traffic plying on this road.
Hence, Shafique suggested building four additional pedestrian bridges along the route, with two of them to be built on an emergency basis.
While speaking to Daily Express, Shafique stated that he had conveyed a pressing public issue to the premier and the prime minister had positively responded to it.
PM Imran has directed the Punjab chief secretary to initiate the necessary procedures and paperwork to build four pedestrian bridges on the old Airport Road in Rawalpindi.
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Meanwhile, claims of stringent security at the new Islamabad International Airport (IIA) were exposed after armed suspects managed to enter the Civil Aviation Authority’s (CAA) building on the airport.
Sources disclosed that a former contractor had managed to break into the building along with 12 personnel after telling guards that he was there to build the canteen.
However, he broke the glass and entered the canteen where they ordered the manager of the new canteen contractor and security guards to put their ‘hands up’. They then locked the canteen staff and the guards inside the canteen while claiming that he had built.
Later, after CAA officials learnt of the deception and the breach, a squad rushed to the site and broke the locks of the canteen to free two captives .
While officials probe the matter, the possibility of weapons being brought into the airport premises has alarmed CAA officials.
The issue has also been reported to the police.
Airport officials said that the bone of contention was handing over the contract for the canteen to another company. They added that the former contractor was feeling aggrieved because he had helped build the canteen and then ran it for much of the past year until the CAA awarded the contract to a different firm some four months ago after issuing a tender. However, the old contractor claims mala fide intentions, alleging that a government official is allegedly one of the partners of the new contractor.
A CAA spokesperson said that the canteen infrastructure had been built by CAA adding that former contractor was initially given a contract to run the canteen. Later, a proper tender for operating the canteen was awarded as per law to a different firm.
He added that the suspects were armed and had taken the law into their hands, adding that the incident was being probed.
The matter, though, has now been handed over to the police for further investigations and action.
Officers said that they have summoned both the old and new contractor to the police station today (Monday) to amicably resolve the dispute.
WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM QAISER SHERAZI
Published in The Express Tribune, March 11th, 2019.