Introduction and Background
Since 1997 the Rawalpindi Development Authority has planned to construct a ring road. Now the time has arrived for the execution of the project. Rawalpindi Ring Road is a highway designed to run across Islamabad and Rawalpindi, and Rawalpindi Ring Road was planned to be developed with a long-term vision.
Islamabad and Rawalpindi metropolitan areas play an important role in boosting Pakistan’s economy, and it is regarded as the third-largest metropolitan area according to population. Both twin cities are interconnected by roads and the metro bus system, but the traffic and logistics crowd are not easily manageable. Rawalpindi city is also one of the northern areas’ leading logistics and transportation centres.
Currently, National Highway N-5 is Pakistan’s major national transport corridor, which is a 1,819 km long highway. It connects the country’s main economic and trade centres like Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, and Torkham. This highway facilitates 96% of external trade and 65% of internal traffic crowd.
However, the main traffic jam and crowd that the N-5 highway faces is the section that passes through the central areas of Rawalpindi. Rawalpindi Ring Road will cost Rs 23.606 billion to acquire the concurrence of the Planning Commission and inclusion of axle load management in the project. The project will be financed by the Punjab Annual Development Program (ADP), and the Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA) will execute it.
To facilitate and decrease the volume of trade and traffic crowd on the N-5 national highway, the Rawalpindi Ring Road is designed. The ring road is planned to be a 65.3 km long road with three lanes on each side (width 110 m). Rawalpindi Ring Road starts from Rawat and ends at N-5 Sangjani. It has eight planned interchanges with four service stations, two on each side. It will easily facilitate connectivity and reduce traffic crowds on the N-5 national highway.
So the traffic for trade and business activities can easily commute to different parts of Pakistan. The Rawalpindi Ring Road will also make the commute for people of twin cities very easy. It will help reduce congestion in the central areas of Rawalpindi and provide space for public transport and commuting vehicles within the twin cities. The ring road especially benefits those people who are residing in the peripheral areas.
Moreover, separating the strategic movements to the South-West part of the city from the local traffic will develop Rawalpindi to function as the national transport and logistic hub. It will also help reduce vehicular noise, air pollution, and fuel consumption for the residents due to traffic jams.
Rawalpindi Ring Road Design
Rawalpindi Ring Road is designed in a way that can facilitate many areas. It starts from Rawat Rawalpindi and links to the Adyala Road near Radio Pakistan through a road that passes from Bahria Town Phase 8 backside. After that, it goes all the way to the Sangjani interchange. Ring Road is planned to have about eight interchanges.
All these interchanges cross through various areas, and all those areas will be facilitated from the ring road. It also crosses through the Islamabad-Lahore and the Islamabad-Peshawar Motorways. Therefore, it will provide quick and easy access to the Motorway.
Rawalpindi Ring Road interchanges include:
- N-5 Radio Pakistan (The National Highway)
- M-2 Murat (at M-2 Motorway)
- Hakla – D.I. Khan
- N-5 Sangjani
Rawalpindi Ring Road comprises 2 major components:
This component includes the construction of road works, ancillary works, and consulting services. Under this component, the total road construction will be about 58.8km, and this will include the main ring road, which is about 38.3km and link roads. This component also includes ancillary works that make the roads of the project fully operational, like the installation of traffic surveillance, construction of operation and maintenance camps facilities, roadside service facilities, and communication systems.
This component includes institutional strengthening and technical support. Under this component, institutional strengthening assistance will be provided based on the evaluation of the government systems and institutional project arrangements.
Benefits of Rawalpindi Ring Road
As known, governments plan and develop every project for the benefit of the public. Therefore, the Government of Punjab has designed Rawalpindi Ring Road keeping in mind its different benefits, and they are explained below:
The ring road will be the main connectivity source of the twin cities. The master plan will connect various integral points of the city. The Radio Pakistan interchange of the ring road locates a few minutes away from Rawalpindi Saddar. So it will facilitate the residents of this area to drive between the twin cities easier than ever before.
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Another significant benefit of the ring road is the easy accessibility of the New Islamabad International Airport. The location of Islamabad International Airport was considered to be on the outskirts of Islamabad, and Aster the construction of the ring road, it will be easily accessible. Moreover, places such as DHA, Bahria Town and Rawat can also easily access the airport.
2. Economic Corridor
Rawalpindi Ring Road will also play the role of an economic corridor in the country’s economy. It will reduce the traffic burden over the N-5 national highway, and the trucks loaded for trade activities can quickly reach their destinations. By becoming an economic corridor, the ring road will help faster transportation and save energy, time, and cost.
Rawalpindi Ring Road will lead to the urbanization of the city. The master plan will link different rural and less developed areas of the city and urbanize these areas to flourish to their full potential, like the areas surrounding the Motorway, Chakri side, Sangjani and some areas of Rawat. The Rawalpindi Ring Road will also help in boosting the upcoming and under-construction residential projects in the twin cities.
Different Phases of Rawalpindi Ring Road
The Rawalpindi Ring Road has different phases from its announcement in 2008. All these phases are discussed below.
Since 1997 the Rawalpindi Development Authority has planned to construct a ring road. However, due to certain reasons, the project was not executed. In 2008 a new feasibility study was done during the Parvez Elahi government in Punjab. According to its recent history, Rawalpindi Ring Road was announced and planned more than a decade ago at times when Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) ruled the Punjab Province. At that time, Mr Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi was the Chief Minister of Punjab.
It was planned to construct the ring road from Channi Sher Alam to Fateh Jhang next to the New Islamabad Airport through foreign investors based on a private-public partnership. At that time, the total length of the project was 75km, and the total amount of the whole project was estimated to be Rs 74 billion. But the Rawalpindi Development Authority made some changes to the map and reduced the total length to 54km.
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Moreover, RDA also proposed to drop the idea of laying a railway track along the road to link the main railway lines with the new airport. The reason behind these changes was to minimize the cost of the project so the government could execute the project with its resources. At that time, the Punjab government added 10 new commercial and residential zones to the project of Rawalpindi Ring Road Project Economic Corridor (RRPEC).
In this phase (2010), the project was estimated to cost Rs 60 billion. The ring road under this phase was planned to pass through all towns in Rawalpindi because the rural areas were planned to be connected with the city and cantonment via different loops along with it. Its total length was proposed to be 70km.
However, the authorities explored some ways to cut down the project’s total cost. One way which was proposed to reduce the total cost of the project was by reducing the length or width of the road. But by doing so, the objectives that were set for Ring Road would not be going to meet.
The public representatives also complained that cutting down the length of the road might deprive their area and residents because the Rawalpindi Ring Road aimed to link the residents of the rural areas with the city. After discussing all these issues, it was decided that to cut down the cost of the project, the road’s width should be decreased from 800ft to 400ft. want to be named, told Dawn.
The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) in December 2021 approved the Rawalpindi Ring Road project. According to the meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) chaired by the Advisor to Finance and Revenue, the project was approved, including the construction of the main carriageway from Baanth (N-5) to Thallian (M-2).
The total cost is estimated to be Rs 23.6 billion on the condition that the Planning Commission’s consent will be taken and the Axle Load Management regime will be included in the project. The total length of the Rawalpindi Ring Road approved under the current government is 38.3 km. The ring road will be constructed having six lanes. The ring road route will start from National Highway (N-5) at Baanth (Rawalpindi district) and will cross via Chakbeli Road, Adyala Road, Chakri Road, and end at Motorway M-2 at Thallian Interchange.
It is known that the Rawalpindi Ring Road project was launched by the previous government, but it was revised again, and its new plans were presented under the current PTI government. However, before starting the project, some allegations have recently revealed that the revision of the ring road plan under the current government was made only to benefit some individuals and private entities.
The changes in the alignment increased the project cost to Rs25 billion. As a result of the Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) investigations, it was revealed that more than Rs130 billion were obtained in property deals since the project was started in 2017.
In the investigation report, the authorities have reported that about 18 individuals who are politically associated with various political parties and 34 compelling builders and property tycoons have received about 64,000 Kanal of land inside the constraints of the Rawalpindi/ Attock circle, Paswal Zigzag, GT Road, and Islamabad Margalla Avenue.
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Precisely, a total of 52 individuals have received more than 63,828 Kanal of land by investing about Rs31 billion to the genuine proprietors. The property tycoons have invested this amount of money for the purpose that the worth of this land will increase highly when the construction work on the Rawalpindi Ring Road starts. According to the investigation report, property tycoons have sold around 0.32 million files/pledges of property plots by getting an estimated Rs131 billion from their clients.
According to the investigators, the new roads links that have been made on the map of Rawalpindi Ring Road benefit many politically associated people. Like the new alignment could possibly benefit 34 plots owned by a former government influential and his family in the Sectors C-15/16 of Islamabad and 1,310 Kanals of land located in the surroundings of the Attock area. Other than this, the new alignment made in the ring road could also benefit one of the former PML-N senators who owns a property of more than 4,700 Kanals in Fatehjang, Attock and Mauza Rajar.
Two PPP MNAs also have a land of 2,460 Kanals of in Sangjani, Islamabad. Besides this, two federal ministers also owned over 1,531 Kanals in Fatehjang and some parts of Attock, which border the ring road routes. The member’s current PTI government are also included in the scam. Like, six PTI MPAs own hundreds of Kanals in different villages of Qazi, 4,000 Kanals in Gaggan Tehsil Jand Attock, and more than 600 Kanals of land in Sector B-17 Islamabad and Paswal, and six Kanals E-13 sector of Islamabad.
The impact of Ring Road on the Real-Estate sector
It is known that any housing society or property located in the vicinity of the ring road has high demand and prices. When the construction work on the Rawalpindi Ring Road starts, it will increase the prices of properties that are situated in its surroundings. We have examples of many housing societies located next to Islamabad but are considered far.
Therefore after the construction of the Rawalpindi Ring Road, societies located near Islamabad and Rawalpindi will become accessible very quickly. Rawalpindi Ring Road will allow travellers and residents of different housing societies to drive directly to their societies using the ring road route after entering Islamabad via the motorway. For instance, DHA Islamabad and Bahria Town.
Chakri is home to many emerging housing societies. Meanwhile, many residential societies are under construction in the surroundings of the ring road. Therefore, with the approval and development of the Rawalpindi Ring Road, their prices will jump up, and the demand for the plot might rise.
Below is the list of some significant societies that will benefit from the Rawalpindi Ring Road: