ISLAMABAD - A formal inquiry is needed to ascertain the facts and to fix the responsibility on the officers of the National Highway Authority, who remained involved in facilitating ‘massive encroachments’ on Islamabad Murree Dual Carriageway—commonly known as Murree Expressway.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday visited the same road as well and expressed his extreme displeasure over the issue of encroachments in its right of way.

He has directed to establish rest areas having all roadside amenities after every 15km of road and also ordered to revamp the road in totality.

Sources informed that the road was originally planned as a controlled access expressway but later in connivance with the field staff of the NHA, a number of restaurants, hotels and guest houses were popped up alongside the road.

They explained further that these private ventures are using direct access from the expressway without having a valid NOC from NHA, which is not only causing trouble in the smooth traffic flow but also harming the beauty of this road.

A well-placed source informed that the direct access from main expressway is being utilized by these private ventures in connivance of concerned formations of NHA, who get under the table favors.

Constructed with a cost of Rs.12 billion, the road is about to lose its effectiveness due to continuous negligence of the NHA that has been failed to protect its ‘control access feature.

The said expressway was constructed to provide an alternate, speedy and uninterrupted road to commuters to reach hill station Murree that is a gateway to Kashmir and according to its original plan the road is an access control expressway. The access control road network means the motorways and highways designed to allow traffic to safely travel at fast speed while entry and exit on the same are allowed only through specific interchanges.

The commercial activities alongside such road networks are usually discouraged except allied amenities to ensure smooth flow of the traffic.

According to a list, dozens of huge establishments are working outside the right of the way of Expressway and using direct access from the road without obtaining any permission from the authority, which otherwise can’t be granted according to rules.

The aforementioned number is increasing year-by-year because NHA has been unsuccessful to protect its right of way. The commercial ventures starting from small khokas have now turned into renowned food outlets.

These commercial entities include Gloria Jeans, 2nd Cup Coffee Shop, Khyber Shinwari, Awais Homeo Clinic, Balochistan Restaurant, Diabetic Hospital, Al-Madina Restaurant, Flourina Restaurant, Commoner Sky Garden, Bahria Housing Society, Madina Restaurant, Anarkali Restaurant, residential flats, Korang View Restaurant, Green Onion Restaurant, Heaven Restaurant, Babu Abbasi Restaurant, Zaqia Restaurant, Red King Restaurant, Al-Naseer Restaurant, Midway Kashmir Hotel, Tourist Dera Restaurant, Malach Kafey, Abshar View Hotel, Saadat Restaurant, Safari Restaurant, Kohsar Restaurant, Shalimar Hotel, New Murree Hotel and TDCP Motel.

When contacted, NHA Spokesperson Director Public Relations, Mr. Sohail Aftab, vehemently denied the fact that anybody from NHA is involved in the encroachment of public property. He said that there is no collusion of any sort between encroachers and NHA officials. NHA has conducted many operations against the encroachers on IMDC and the number of constructions has been significantly reduced due to such operations.

The road was originally planned as a controlled access expressway