PM directs vetting of Murree Expressway to protect against landslides, damages

MURREE, Jun 23 (APP): Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif Thursday directed the National Highway Authority to get the Murree Expressway project vetted by the Chinese experts to make it sustainable against snowfall, land sliding, and erosion.

The prime minister, in a briefing by the NHA on the rehabilitation of the Murree Expressway, pointed out the frequent damage to the road and the retaining wall which he said raised questions on the design and quality of the work.

Citing the quality of construction work on Hazara Motorway as a “treat to watch” said the NHA should consult the contractor of the said road to provide consultancy on how to avoid further wastage of the public money on the project.

The prime minister also instructed to assign an investigation to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to probe the award of the contract and fix responsibility on the people concerned for the poor quality of the work.

He asked the NHA to immediately stop work on the project unless the Chinese company vetted the project and provide guidelines to move ahead. The prime minister called for replicating the Hazara Motorway model to ensure better quality of work.

The prime minister was told a Geotech consultant had been engaged who had also been part of the Hazara Motorway project.

It was told that the project was completed with delay in 2008 owing to the acquisition of forest land and difficult terrain.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif observed that the damage to the retaining wall had become a permanent feature and reiterated his call for engaging a consultant to suggest the specifications of the road.

He said that instead of allowing the mushroom growth of kiosks and restaurants, two proper rest areas should be developed at equal distances to provide quality services to the tourists.

He also directed the authorities concerned to curb the illegal construction activity in Jhika Gali.

It was told that the previous government had allowed vertical construction in the area as per Lahore and that the administration had identified 575 buildings violating the bylaws.

The prime minister directed a complete survey of such construction and sought a detailed presentation.

Regarding the New Murree, he said a consultant firm from the countries like Switzerland should be engaged to suggest a development plan for the area without damaging the natural beauty. The consultant should suggest good interventions for the tourists like the cable transport to discourage the movement of vehicles to the tourist resort.

He also instructed the administration to ensure proper testing of the existing cable car to prevent the recurrence of any accident as took place in the recent past.