Expressway’s name being changed
By Inamullah Khattak
RAWALPINDI, March 29: The name of the multi-billion expressway project in Rawalpindi after former railway minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed is being reverted to its old title of Leh Expressway.
Leh Expressway Project, which was conceived in 1995, was renamed after Sheikh Rashid by President Pervez Musharraf during a public rally at Liaquat Bagh last year.
The new name has been unanimously proposed by the Planning Commission (PC), Directorate of Designing and Consultancy (DDC) of General Headquarters (GHQ), Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA), National Engineering Services of Pakistan (Nespak) and the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO).
The revised summary (corrigendum) regarding the new name has been sent to the PC.
The controversy over the name came into open after the political parties winning the February 18 elections warned the authorities concerned that the project would cease to materialise if its name crediting an outvoted politician was not changed.
It may be mentioned that a banner inscribed with the name of the project as Sheikh Rashid Expressway and installed in front of Moti Mahal has already been removed.
At present, the contractor, FWO, has abandoned work on the site but official sources in the organisation told Dawn that they were waiting for the nod of the PC after renaming of the project.
“There is no technical or financial impediment to the project except the controversy over its name. This project is going to be executed for the welfare of the people,” said an official source in RDA, which is the executing agency.
Director General RDA Brig (retired) Saeed Baig also said there was no technical challenge in the execution of the project.
“What I have learnt in project management discipline is that the first cause of failure of any project is its naming after a personality. I am dead sure that the project would be completed within the stipulated time,” Mr Baig told Dawn after refusing to comment on the new name of the project.
The Rs22 billion project envisages a 22-km-long signal-free expressway on both sides of Leh Nulla which has flooded 20 times since 1960, killing hundreds of people and damaging public property worth millions of rupees.
The biggest technical challenge to the project was how to accommodate the flood water by constructing retaining walls on both sides of the drain as in this way there would be no outlet for the gushing water.
The PC had sent a team of officials to some Asia-Pacific and European countries to study similar projects and visualise a design for the expressway.
During the visit, it was pointed out that valves should have to be installed on various places in the retaining wall in order to release the increasing water to other mini-drains for minimising the pressure of flood water.
However, the report prepared by the officials has not been made public and has been submitted to the PC and FWO.
Hum Pakistani karna kai chaatein hain? Apnay saath, ish mulk kay saath, aur deen kay saath? - Musharraf