ISLAMABAD: Critics have questioned the Capital Development Authority’s (CDA) continual delay over starting work on the mega Zero Point Interchange Project.
Delayed for years because of design and funds, the Rs 2.3 billion project is now stuck in wait for the Prime Minister (PM) who is to formally inaugurate it.
“I fail to understand what’s the big deal about it – the CDA chairman could have done the inauguration himself instead of wasting crucial time,” said MK Sufi, a member of the Islamabad Citizens’ Committee.
He pointed out that such “fanfare” was uncalled for and besides no one ever remembered who inaugurated what. “Let the PM handle more pressing matters that require his attention,” he said.
The CDA had announced a string of different dates for work to begin but like much else, they came and passed. Critics claim that the city fathers intend to draw mileage of some sort by inviting the PM to give the go-ahead to the project.
A final date is still not known although it has been weeks since CDA put up the request. Officials believe that the inauguration would take place only after the presidential election. “I think the date might be set after a new president is elected,” said one senior official.
The contractor Messers Maqbool Associates, a Karachi-based company, has already moved in machines at the site yet vital weeks are being lost for a project that is supposedly to be completed in two years.
However, Ghazanfar Ali, a resident thought that if CDA’s past record was any yardstick, the interchange was unlikely to be completed in the given time span. “Here we are waiting for weeks for the PM to come and cut the ribbon – all this wait is meaningless,” he said.
The Zero Point project has for long been a thorn for the CDA that has had to face prolonged delays as a result of consultations over design and seeking approvals from relevant government departments.
The authorities had had to get the original design vetted by a consultant of the National Highway Authority (NHA) that ate up considerable time. The Planning Commission had made it mandatory that a second opinion be sought.
A French firm had prepared the PC-I of the project as early as 1997 but that was rejected by CDA. Subsequently, the PC-I was put aside five times because of technical flaws and political interference that left the project in jeopardy. The CDA also had to dole out millions of rupees to have different designs made.
The final design of the interchange is in the shape of a cloverleaf and it would have five loops making it a unique structure that would serve Islamabad’s traffic needs for at least the next 20 years. The interchange will be earthquake resistant and the construction will be done in three phases.
But largely, the people believe that work on the interchange should start as soon as possible. “Things should keep moving – playing this waiting game makes no sense at all,” said another resident.
Source: Daily Times