ISLAMABAD - The Islamabad-Murree Expressway is under a potential threat to lose its effectiveness due to continuous negligence of the National Highway Authority that has been unsuccessful to ensure its ‘access control’ feature.

However, the senior officers are of the view that the Federal Minister for Communications Murad Saeed is quite vocal against encroachments and his personal intervention into this matter could save this national asset, which was constructed with a cost of around 12 billion rupees.

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.

30 commercial entities pop up alongside expressway with direct access to road

However, due to the continuous negligence on part of NHA high-ups to protect this important road and an under 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 etc. 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, there are around 30 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 can’t be granted according to 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, the General Manager ROW NHA Anser Anise said that 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 Mr. 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.

He however stated that he had again taken up this matter with high-ups for a final decision but when this scribe approached the General Manager RAMD Naseem Khattak—who is supposed to take such decision regarding road networks was totally unaware of the subject.