Rawalpindi Ring Road Project 2020 – 2021:
Announced in 2020, the purpose of the Rawalpindi Ring Road Project was to improve economic connectivity and road transport efficiency in Islamabad-Rawalpindi Metropolitan Area through constructing the ring road and associated facilities. This article summarizes the events that took place towards new alignment of the project and the case of real estate housing societies.
Importance of Rawalpindi Ring Road Project
The National Highway N-5 is one of the most important national transport corridors in the country.
The 1,819- km long highway connects the key economic centers, such as Torkham, Peshawar, Islamabad, Lahore, and Karachi. Traffic movements, including 96 percent of external trade and 65 percent of total inland freight, are primarily concentrated along this corridor.
One of the key bottlenecks on N-5 is the section which passes through the central areas of Rawalpindi.
Development of the Rawalpindi Ring Road will help relieve the bottleneck on N-5. It will help alleviate congestion in the central areas of Rawalpindi city, and release space and save travel time for non-motorized traffic, public transport and commuting vehicles within the twin cities. It will also facilitate the growth of the Rawalpindi city towards south-western side in a planned manner.
Segregating the strategic movements towards the southwest part of the city from local traffic will enhance the city’s function as the national transport and logistic hub. Moreover, the city northeast part and Islamabad will have sufficient space for livability, job creation and other service or industry developments. It will also contribute to reduction in fuel consumption, vehicular noise and air pollution in the urban area.
The Rawalpindi Ring Road Project was initially taken up to be financed on loan basis by Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in 2018. However, it has now been reported that AIIB has dropped this project from its financing list.
Summary: What happened to Rawalpindi Ring Road Project over the last year 2020 – 2021?
Over the last few months of 2021, Ring Road Project has been under heated discussions due to its newly proposed alignment. Prime Minister Imran Khan ordered investigation into Rawalpindi Ring Road project as the newly proposed alignment had resulted into increase in the cost of the overall project.
However, it has come out that in 2020-2021; the Rawalpindi Ring Route has undergone multiple discussions based on technical and financial grounds. Technically, the original route required the commuters to travel on three different roads and had to pay tolls to three different agencies– first to the ring road, then to the FWO, and finally to the NHA on the N-80. To avoid multiple tolls issue, Attock loop has been added after deliberate discussions of the RDA with CDA and NHA.
Besides, NESPAK (National Engineering Services Pakistan) finalised the re-alignment of Rawalpindi Ring Road Project after conducting option analysis of the new alignment in 2021 and found the current alignment to be most suitable for the construction of the Rawalpindi ring road given the objectives of the project.
Rawalpindi Ring Road Project and Real Estate Housing Societies
It has been reported that the Attock loop had been planned on purely technical and justified grounds outlined by the consultants, discussions with CDA – as it wanted to link Margalla Avenue Project with Rawalpindi Ring Road Project and with NHA to avoid tolls issues. Therefore, it cannot be ascribed to any real estate housing society or any other party.
No matter which alignment is used, be it the 2017 one or the advertised one, benefits would be available to the neighboring societies, land owners and occupants.
Capital Smart City and Ring Road Project
Capital Smart City was launched in 2016. At that time Rawalpindi Ring Road Project was nowhere in the discussions or existence as per se. Capital Smart City location already holds a significance importance in terms of its nearness to Islamabad Airport and the fact that a new business and residential hub is rapidly being developed around the airport in the form of other well-known societies such as Top City -1 and Mumtaz City.
Four years later, Rawalpindi Ring Road Project was launched in 2020. Therefore,
Capital Smart City location does not have direct benefits from it; the society is not in the early phases / entering-the-market phase in comparison with other societies named in the Rawalpindi Ring Road Project Scandal. Capital Smart City development has rather attained a mature status.
Besides, Capital Smart City location is already being approved by RDA (Rawalpindi Development Authority) and NHA has recently approved an interchange on M2 Motorway for Capital Smart City. Therefore, the processes and development progress in terms of approvals and construction is ongoing for the society. It is also ensuring compliance with all the suggestions and feedback received from RDA.
However, Capital Smart City location has indirect benefits from the Rawalpindi Road Project, such as it will further improve its accessibility regardless of the original or revised Rawalpindi Ring Road Project Plan.
Capital Smart City location falls under the jurisdiction of RDA and it remains a credible investment opportunity, reliable residential living and lucrative commercial hub in the future.
Current Development on Rawalpindi Ring Road Project
According to the news source, Rawalpindi Commissioner Syed Gulzar Hussain Shah, while briefing the Punjab Chief Secretary via video link, revealed that work has begun on the RRR’s fresh alignment. He stressed that the process to realign the project will be free from corruption.
Responding to the information shared in this briefing, the chief secretary directed the commissioner to share the project’s alternate proposals along with cost estimates as soon as possible to ensure that construction of the road is completed within the same budget.
The chief secretary dismissed all rumors regarding the project being stopped, adding that the project is of huge importance for the residents of Rawalpindi and there is no reason to halt it. He directed the commissioner to submit PC-1 of the RRR project on a priority basis.