Missing policing : Islamabad Expressway labelled ‘death road’

Accidents happen because of no dedicated crash investigation sites, errant drivers, and jaywalkers

Qaiser Sherazi November 08, 2021
The signal-free Islamabad Expressway project aims to ease traffic pressure during rush hours. PHOTO: FILE


The federal capital’s signal-free expressway is arguably the fastest route to its twin Rawalpindi, but frequent accidents occur either because of rash drivers or errant pedestrians, choking traffic for hours on end.

Statistics gathered by The Express Tribune indicate that the expressway handles roughly 300,000 cars a day and about 250 accidents occur on it annually.

The five-lane road, which is roughly 26km long, lacks dedicated crash investigation sites because of which, after an accident, drivers dive into arguments at the expense of being a nuisance to others.

Senior Superintendent Police (SSP) Traffic Islamabad Sarfraz Ahmed Virk, while talking to The Express Tribune, informed that apart from quarrelling, drivers do not allow vehicles to be removed until they are compensated, which disrupts the traffic system.

Accidents tend to happen when there is a lack of policing on speed limits and jaywalking. Buland Khan, a vendor in the Koral Chowk area along the road, is its frequent user. He said that the road was immensely difficult to cross on foot because of minimal pedestrian bridges and lack of vehicle speed checks.

“Everyone drives over the speed limit and often fatal crashes happen when drivers try to save pedestrians,” he said.

Khan opined that the road was dangerous for motorcyclists due to no speed-checking cameras or any signs showing drivers to watch out for bikers.

Khursheed Akbar, who bikes to his university in Islamabad, concurred with Khan’s views. “Most motorcyclists call this the death road because if a biker crashes with any of the rash speeding vehicles, it is a miracle if they survive,” Akbar stated.

Jameel Akhtar, who used the road to commute to his workplace, stopped using it after witnessing a horrific incident. While talking to The Express Tribune, he said, “All I saw were the broken limbs of the motorcyclist and ever since then I have been using the service road.”

Residents of the twin city feel that not only have the traffic police failed to police the road effectively, but the lack of streetlights on it is a major reason for accidents at night-time.

“Driving on this particular road at night is a challenge because it does not have any lights and it gets an influx of trucks which contribute majorly to crashes,” Gul Sher Malik, a vendor on the Khanna Bridge of the Expressway said.

Virk, when inquired why the department did not employ drones to monitor traffic or digital speed indicators, conceded that it should be done.

“Road engineering also has a vital role to play in preventing traffic accidents. There should be cat eyes at all necessary locations, some speed breakers, some fish bellies, some roundabouts,” he suggested.

However, Virk states such suggestions had been forwarded many times to competent authorities, but nothing had been done so far.


Published in The Express Tribune, November 8th, 2021.


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