RR project finally gets rolling

Ambitious 38.3-km scheme to cost Rs33.7 billion

Imran Asghar September 23, 2023


After a lengthy wait spanning 17 years, the construction of the Rawalpindi Ring Road officially commenced on Friday.

Delays in the megaproject were attributed to funding shortages, scandals, changes in government leadership, and political disputes. The ambitious 38.3-kilometres project, with an estimated cost of Rs33.7 billion, is slated for completion within one year.

Once finished, it will offer a crucial daily transportation link for numerous vehicles and heavy traffic between Rawalpindi and Islamabad.

The ring road will boast six lanes on each side of its 38.3-kilometer span to accommodate the anticipated traffic. Additionally, five interchanges will be constructed to facilitate easy access for nearby communities to the highway, according to a district administration spokesperson.

Read Int’l consultant to redefine route of RR project

The commencement of construction was marked by a visit from Rawalpindi Commissioner Liaquat Ali Chatha, who expressed optimism about the project's progress. Commissioner Chatha addressed those who had previously claimed that the project had been abandoned, stating that construction had officially begun and would be completed within a year.

The project will encompass five interchanges at Banth, Chak Beli Khan, Adiala Road, Chakri Road, and Thalian. Commissioner Chatha also mentioned plans for establishing an industrial zone surrounding the Rawalpindi Ring Road.

During his visit to the construction site at Gorakhpur Tiraha, Commissioner Chatha was accompanied by Additional Commissioner Revenue Kanza Murtaza, Additional Deputy Commissioner Revenue Nabil Sindhu, Assistant Commissioner Cantt Qandeel Fatima, Director General of Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA) Saif Anwar Jappa, and representatives from various departments, including the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) and National Engineering Services Pakistan (NESPAK).

The commissioner highlighted the road's significance in improving the well-being of the public and commended the Rawalpindi Development Authority for its efforts in expediting development projects. He stressed that the project would alleviate traffic congestion and provide easier access to surrounding areas, offering employment opportunities to daily commuters and contributing to Rawalpindi's growth and progress.

Read more RR project victims facing hardships in land retrieval

The project had faced controversy during the tenure of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) due to alleged alignment issues. However, former Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif reinstated the project, recognising its importance.

RDA estimates show that 9,000 kanals of land was required for the 38.3-kilometre road, with 70% of the land already acquired. The project will cross a total of 36 villages, eight of which are in Gujarkhan tehsil, while the rest are in Rawalpindi tehsil. Light vehicles will be permitted to travel at speeds of up to 120 km/h on the ring road, providing enhanced convenience for commuters.

During the PTI government’s tenure, over a dozen bureaucrats, including former commissioner Capt (retd) Muhammad Mehmood and Land Acquisition Collector Waseem Ali Tabish were grilled for their alleged involvement in the Rawalpindi Ring Road corruption scandal. However, in July last year, they were acquitted, following an order issued by the establishment division.

Prior to that, the length of the ring road, intended to relieve the city of traffic congestion, had been increased by several kilometers to allegedly benefit a housing society and other potential estate developers in the area for which the government had to shell out Rs20 billion to buy additional land.

When the case came to light, the former PTI government set up a three-member committee to hold an inquiry.

Strangely, the committee submitted two reports, one by its head, the then Rawalpindi Commissioner Syed Gulzar Hussain Shah, which laid most of the blame on bureaucrats who allegedly favoured some housing societies, and the other by the two other committee members, which claimed the changes were approved by higher-ups.

The Punjab Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE), tasked with the investigation, had given a clean chit to the then-former chief minister Usman Buzdar and former federal cabinet members in the scandal.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 23rd, 2023.


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