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Authorities fail to devise mechanism for maintenance of Torkham Highway

By Ibrahim Shinwari 2016-07-27
LANDI KOTAL: Peshawar-Torkham Highway has developed faults at a number of locations only a year after its completion owing to delay in devising a proper mechanism for its maintenance.

It was observed during travelling on the road that almost half a meter thick asphalt surface of the road was rutted at Lala Cheena, Shahgai, Ali Masjid and Bhagyiarri localities.

It was also observed that upper portion of the cat`s eyes on the road was dislocated, leaving thick and sharp nails above the sides of the road surface that caused bursting of tyr6es of a number of vehicles.The number of cat`s eyes dislocated from road surfaces was counted to be in hundreds from Shahgai up to Torkham with no cognisance by the officials concerned about its fatalities for transporters and motorists.

Major Haseenullah, a spokesman for Frontier Works Organisation (FWO), when asked said that the control of the highway was handed over to National Highways Authority (NHA)fewmonths ago upon the completion of its one year guarantee time.

President Mamnon Hussain inaugurated the road in August last year. The United States-funded project was completed in almost three years with a total cost of more than $7 billion.

Major Haseen said that FWO had also established a weigh station at Sur Kamar in Jamrud which was supposed to keep check on all loaded vehicles.

The station too was handed over to NHA few months ago, he said.

`The road was built in such a manner and the construction quality was maintained to such a level that it could sus-tain for almost five decades provided the authorities concerned don`t allow overloaded vehicles on it,` Major Haseen said. He added that the road had in fact not sunk or dropped down owing to use of substandard material but had rather rutted owing to overloaded vehicles.

He said that they had strictly advised NHA to keep the load limit up to 60 tonnes whereas vehicles carrying up to 140 tonnes load were then allowed to use the road.

Major Haseen said that FWO had brought the matter into the notice of both NHA and Fata Secretariat but no action was taken to prevent further deformation of the road.

Jamal Nasir, the director general maintenance in NHA, when approached, acknowledged that only a nominal fine was imposed on overloaded vehicles. He said that the overloaded vehicles were neither stopped from using the road nor extra load was removed from the vehicles as per the maintenance requirements.He said that prior to taking control of the Sur Kamar weigh station, it was run by a private party but then it was under full control of NHA.

`We are yet to devise a proper mechanism for safety and maintenance of this very important road. We have requested our headquarters for release of funds for building of a warehouse along the already established weigh station so that we can store extra stuff removed from overloaded trucks there,` said Mr Nasir.

He said that NHA was also yet to decide about the award of contract for maintenance of the road as the previous procedure of nomination by the local administration was suspended.

Sources in Torkham told Dawn that 600 to 1,000 loaded vehicles used the 45-kilometre road from Torkham to Peshawar on daily basis. A clearing agent said that most of the damage to the road was caused by vehicles overloaded with cement which was being exported to Afghanistan.