ISLAMABAD        -        A lack of interest by National Highway Authority’s top management and indecisiveness from its concerned formations, the illegal constructions alongside the Islamabad Murree Dual Carriageway, commonly known as Murree Expressway is expediting day by day.

Constructed with a cost of Rs12 billion, the road is under a potential threat to lose its effectiveness due to continuous negligence of the National Highway Authority that has been protecting its ‘access control’ feature. 

The said expressway was constructed to provide an alternate, speedy and uninterrupted road to commuters to reach hill station Murree that is a gateway to Kashmir and according to its original plan, the road is an access control expressway.

The access control road network means the motorways and highways designed to allow traffic to safely travel at fast speed while entry and exit on the same are allowed only through specific interchanges. The commercial activities alongside such road networks are usually discouraged except allied amenities to ensure smooth flow of the traffic.

However, due to the continuous negligence on part of the NHA high-ups to protect this important road and an under the table settlement of field formations with private individuals, the Islamabad-Murree Expressway is losing its effectiveness on very rapid pace.

A large number of commercial entities ranging from small kiosks to huge recreational spots including restaurants, hotels, housing societies and the like have been popped up alongside the expressway in last few years and they are using direct, but illegal access from the main road, creating troubles for commuters in maintaining their pace.

According to a list, dozens of huge establishments working outside the right of the way of Islamabad-Murree Expressway and using direct access from the road without obtaining any permission from the authority, which is otherwise, cannot be granted according to the rules.

It is pertinent to mention that aforementioned number is increasing year-by-year because NHA has been unsuccessful to protect its right of way. The commercial ventures starting from small Khokas have now turned into renowned food outlets.

These commercial entities include Gloria Jeans, 2nd Cup Coffee Shop, Khyber Shinwari, Awais Homeo Clinic, Balochistan Restaurant, Diabetic Hospital, Al-Madina Restaurant, Flourina Restaurant, Commoner Sky Garden, Behria Housing Society, Madina Restaurant, Anarkali Restaurant, residential flats, Korang View Restaurant, Green Onion Restaurant, Heaven Restaurant, Babu Abbasi Restaurant, Zaqia Restaurant, Red King Restaurant, Al-Naseer Restaurant, Midway Kashmir Hotel, Tourist Dera Restaurant, Malach Kafey, Abshar View Hotel, Saadat Restaurant, Safari Restaurant, Kohsar Restaurant, Shalimar Hotel, New Murree Hotel and TDCP Motel.

When contacted about the status of these amenities, Right of Way Section of NHA informed that the authority had not issued a single NOC for such amenities as the same could not be granted on an access control network.

On the other side, when approached, the respective Deputy Director Maintenance Sirmad to know as to why they were reluctant to conduct an operation against these encroachers, he said the authority had made several attempts in past to fence the road, but could not succeed as protection of the fence once installed is itself a difficult task.

The spokesperson NHA Capitan Retired Mushtaq Ahmed was contacted to respond to the issue. He said that he would respond after getting input from relevant formation, but he did not reply till filing of this story.