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Islamabad: Controversial 'Zero Point Interchange' to be finished 'ahead of schedule’

Despite being frequently hit by controversies, the work on Zero Point Interchange is progressing according to schedule. There is hope that this may become one of those ‘rare projects’ undertaken by the Capital Development Authority (CDA) that might be completed ahead of schedule.

The project, costing Rs2.35 billion, was launched in September 2008. It is scheduled to open for traffic by September 2010.

CDA Member (Engineering) Tahir Shamshad once again dispelled fears of a catastrophe due to the ‘flawed design’ of the structure of the interchange. According to him, every possible precaution has been taken to check and recheck the design and its strength by the best engineering consultants of the country. “We too became cautious after the Shershah Bridge collapsed in Karachi because the same consultant was hired by the CDA for designing of the interchange. So we took extra precautionary measures and told the consultants — Engineering Consultants International Limited (ECIL) — to hire one of the leading engineering consultants to review and vet the design that they have submitted at their own cost,” he said.

“They engaged AA Contractors (Akbar Aleem) — a company that enjoys a good reputation. Even then we were not fully satisfied, so the CDA, on its own, engaged Mohammad Iqbal Haq Associates as vetting consultant to scrutinise the design,” he added.

“The diameter of the pillars of the flyover is one metre. According to the ‘thumb rule,’ it is enough to bear the load up to a free height of 15 metres, whereas the maximum free height of these pillars at the highest point is not over 12 metres,” the CDA member (engineering) said.

Meanwhile, sources in the CDA said that 75 percent of the first phase of structural work has already been completed. The pace of work is quite satisfactory in view of the fact that the project has ran into trouble because of environmental concerns as well as a prolonged winter rain spell this year.

“Speaking in ‘overall terms,’ we have made 45 percent of ‘physical progress’ on the project. In the first phase, which mainly involves construction of the structure, we have completed 75 percent of work,” Project Director Mumtaz Hussain told ‘The News’. He claimed that at least two or may be three slip roads of the interchange will be opened for traffic by the end of July 2009, which will help smoothen flow of traffic passing through this busy point.

“We will be opening Faizabad-Peshawar Morr, Peshawar Morr-Faisal Avenue and Kashmir Highway-Faisal Avenue slip roads by the end of July. The opening of these slip roads will ease the pressure on the site a great deal,” Mumtaz Hussain said.

He said that at present the pace of work on the project has slowed down a little bit because of two reasons — one the shifting of power lines and the second to minimise the damage to pine trees that have taken decades to grow.

“The CDA chairman has already released the payment we need to make to Wapda for shifting of power lines which are interrupting the project. Now we will be pursuing Wapda to complete the task as quickly as possible,” he said.

“As far as saving these majestic pine trees is concerned, we have made a few changes, narrowed down passages and (road) shoulders which has helped us bring down the number of trees that we earlier wanted to be shifted to 30 from 113. We have already told the Directorate of Environment to transplant these 30 trees and that will clear the passage for us to launch work on this site as well,” Mumtaz said.

Source: The News

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