CHAKWAL: Talagang Road, which branches out from Tehsil Chowk – the main square in Chakwal city – and ends at Talagang city is Chakwal’s answer to Mall Road in Lahore and Murree Road in Rawalpindi.
This major avenue not only connects Chakwal to the Islamabad-Lahore Motorway, but also to over four dozen villages along the Talagang tehsil and south Punjab, and is in dire need of reconstruction.
The road was carpeted during the tenure of Chaudhry Pervez Elahi, who approved the proposal to make the road a carpeted one at the behest of then district nazim Sardar Ghulam Abbas and his family friend Hafiz Ammar Yassir.
However, cracks started appearing in the road a couple of years ago, and have not been repaired. An official from the Provincial Highway Department said: “The life of the road has ended. Repair is not the solution to fixing the cracks, which have emerged at various places, rather the road badly needs to be rebuilt.”
He added that a severe shortage of funding means that the road’s reconstruction “is not in sight”.
Around 300 to 350 feet of the road as it passes through the Odherwal village are particularly worse for wear. Every few months, the Provincial Highway Department repairs this rundown portion, only for it to deteriorate a few days later.
Not only is this portion an eyesore, it is also difficult for commuters to drive down the road. Among these commuters are the district coordination officer (DCO), the district police officer and other district administration officers who have to travel down the road several times a day because the district complex is also located on Talagang Road.
“Every couple of months, tenders are issued for repairing the rundown patch, but leading and well-reputed contractors stay away as repairing a carpeted road is not a permanent solution.
If the road is repaired, it gets broken after a few weeks, so leading contractors stay away from the tendering process as the road’s immediate deterioration following repairs could damage their reputation,” an official said.
Local representatives and the Chakwal DCO have never shown interest in the road’s condition, particularly the small patch in the Odherwal village.
When MNA Iffat Liaquat spoke to Dawn, she asked: “Where is it broken?” When informend of the patch in the Odherwal village, she said she “would do something to fix the issue”.
DCO Mehmood Javed Bhatti also said he would summon the concerned officials of the Provincial Highway Department and direct them to fix the issue.
Provincial Highway Department sub-divisional officer engineer Jawad Asghar said a tender has been issued seeking the repair of the patch in the Odherwal village.
“Only one contractor came forward,” he said, adding that the patch will be repaired at a cost of Rs3 million. “The bid submitted by the contractor has yet to be approved by the higher officials,” he said.
According to one official, spending Rs3 million on repairing the patch would be a waste of public funds. The official said the road, at least from the patch in question, must be reconstructed, for which Rs7.5 million is required.
Published in Dawn, June 13th, 2016