Acting Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed while lamenting about the state of Islamabad’s roads during a case on Friday said that although he had been driving for 40 years, he was unable to do so in the city.
He made these remarks during a Supreme Court hearing of a case related to encroachment in the capital.
A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Justice Ahmed summoned the capital’s mayor and the chairman of the National Highway Authority (NHA) and asked them to inform the court of steps that have been taken to clear encroachments from Islamabad and the highways.
The top court asked for a report with pictures on operations as well as a picture-based report on the retrieval of Centaurus service roads.
The chairman of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) informed the court that the service roads had been retrieved and added that an operation was underway in the Blue Area as well as across the federal capital.
Justice Sardar Tariq Masood said that even today, barriers had been placed on Margalla Road. The CDA chairman responded that the city would soon be cleared of encroachments.
“Let’s go now and see how many encroachments have been cleared,” Justice Ahmed remarked, adding that the Kashmir Highway and Islamabad Expressway were in “bad condition”.
He said that on big roads in the city there were no pedestrian bridges for pedestrians.
“There shouldn’t be U-turns on a big road in Islamabad,” he remarked adding: “The streets of Islamabad shouldn’t appear to be blocked under any circumstance. The reflectors placed on the streets of the capital are also not working.”
“I have been driving for 40 years,” he said. “Yet, it is not possible for me to drive in the federal capital.”
The chairman of the CDA said that they were making the expressway signal free and added that after three years the grant for the expressway has been allocated in the budget.
Justice Ahmed said that it was impossible to go from Bhara Kahu to Muree. He added that the greenbelt of the Embassy Road had also been taken over, to which the chairman of the CDA responded that work was underway for the extension of Embassy Road.
“[We] will satisfy the court with our performance,” said the chairman.
The acting chief justice also remarked on the lack of public transport in Islamabad.
“Why are there no public transport facilities in the capital?” the judge asked, adding that those who were coming to the Judicial Colony had to get off miles away and walk.
He said that ground trains should be running inside the city and added that people have to walk home from work.
The hearing of the case was adjourned for two weeks.
The CDA spent Tuesday removing encroachments by Centaurus Mall, and decided that it would also remove encroachments from the right-of-way of major roads in the capital within 48 hours.
The CDA had directed the Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad’s Directorate of Municipal Administration (DMA) to withdraw permission given to private individuals to use state land that was given without prior approval from the CDA’s planning wing.
The authority’s enforcement teams demolished construction and encroachments by Centaurus Mall and had cleared a portion of the Nazimuddin Road right-of-way.
The CDA chairman and board members also had met at the CDA headquarters to review the anti-encroachment drive in view of a recent SC hearing in which the authority was reprimanded for failing to remove encroachments.