Collateral damage: dilapidated Multan-Mianwali Road irks residents

Accidents on the rise due to lack of repair for 14 years

Rana Amir Aslam February 17, 2020

BHAKKAR: The Multan-Mianwali Road is still unable to draw the attention of the authorities concerned despite the loss of dozens of lives in accidents. A number of commuters have been injured in accidents caused by the dilapidated condition of the road.

The 24-foot wide road passes through 103 kilometres of Bhakkar district. It holds importance in terms of commercial connectivity and the ongoing work on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project. Millions of people depend on this road to travel.

The road was constructed in 2006, after which no reconstruction has taken place. According to Punjab Highway Department officials, the reconstruction of this road will cost around Rs18 billion. Parliamentarians from Bhakkar district held a special meeting with Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar but all efforts regarding the construction and repair appear to have been in vain.

Accidents are increasing day by day due to the worsening condition of the Multan-Mianwali Road. Roads, as part of a district’s infrastructure, play a key role in its people’s routine activities. However, the dilapidated condition of this road, which connects millions of people from various cities of the district, has added to their problems.

Reportedly, hundreds of thousands of people travel by this road on a daily basis to Multan, Muzaffargarh, Bhakkar, Mianwali and Layyah districts. The dilapidated condition of the road has become so severe that accidents have become a routine.

This major road connecting the four provinces enters Bhakkar from Prime Minister Imran Khan's constituency, Mianwali, and all heavy traffic coming from Karachi to Peshawar passes this road.

The damaged road is causing serious traffic problems and accidents, but has failed to attract the attention of top officials.

The road’s worn out condition has reached a stage where people traveling on it have become vulnerable to accidents.

There is no alternative route for the hundreds of thousands of people forced to travel on the road on a daily basis. Despite the difficulties and risk, the commuters continue to use it as the people in these districts are dependent on traveling on this road.

Bhakkar Deputy Commissioner Asif Ali Farrukh said preventing accidents was not possible unless the complete reconstruction of Multan-Mianwali Road was carried out. “We are trying our best to repair the potholes and rough patches where it is in a dilapidated condition.”

There have been extensive talks with the Punjab Communications and Works Department secretary but a shortage of funds always becomes a hurdle in the construction, the deputy commissioner added.

The C&W secretary has specifically requested that the road work must be completed on an emergency basis, the DC further said. “Material has reached the site for road patchwork and the work is going to start soon. However, the material is insufficient for the road’s length.”

Sub-Divisional Highway Officer Malik Adnan Aziz said that work is in progress to improve the condition of the Multan-Mianwali Road on an immediate basis. “A number of deep pits on the road are causing accidents as high speed cars and public transport vehicles meet accidents while avoiding them.”

This road is an important national highway in Bhakkar where all heavy traffic from cross the country passes through to reach other provinces, he added.

For the last 14 years, inadequate repair arrangements for this road are causing further damage to it. Rao Afsar Ali, a local resident, said the people were calling for immediate reconstruction of the Multan-Mianwali Road as they were encountering serious difficulties due to its dilapidated condition. “The lack of maintenance of this road has affected a large number of people.”

When we compare the current situation of this road with the roads of other cities in the country, we feel a sense of deprivation, he added.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 17th, 2020.

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