ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court expressed dismay over the dilapidated condition of Balochistan Highway on Wednesday and summoned a report from the National Highway Authority (NHA) about maintenance of the country’s major arteries.
A three-judge Supreme Court bench, consisting of Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed, Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel and Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Naqvi, made the observation after taking up a suo motu case about the poor condition of Balochistan Highway (N-25), also known as RCD Highway.
The court also asked the NHA to furnish a report about the number of accidents on major highways.The 813 kilometre-long RCD Highway passes through Karachi, Bela, Khuzdar, Kalat, Mastung, Quetta and Chaman before entering Afghanistan.
The highest number of accidents occurred in an area between Bela, Khuzdar, Kalat and Mastung districts of Balochistan.
During the hearing the chief justice wondered where the funds allocated to the NHA for maintenance of highways had gone since almost all major roads were in a bad state of repair.
The court was bitter over the fact that roads turned into potholes as soon as it rained and scores of innocent lives were lost in accidents simply because of the NHA’s negligence.
The NHA has become notorious for corruption, the Supreme Court regretted. Even petrol pumps, hotels and shops have sprung up on highways, a judge observed.
The court bemoaned that most highways were a picture of desolation because nothing had been done to beautify them.
During the hearing the chief justice recalled a 2018 report that 5,932 passengers had lost their lives in 12,894 road accidents. Justice Miankhel reminded the authorities concerned that 36,000 people had died in accidents during the current year alone.
According to experts, the main reason of the rising number of accidents on N-25 Highway was that this road was built 30 years ago when Balochistan had a small population and a two-lane carriageway was enough for the province.
But with the increase in population, the report said, a two-lane carriageway had become inadequate since it was causing fatal accidents.
Experts stressed the need for adding two lanes to the highway, installing signboards and increasing police patrol. They called for improving and upgrading the road since it was a part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
Published in Dawn, June 10th, 2021