Is the new highway a death trap?

Is the new highway a death trap?
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Uninstalled lights, reflectors and ongoing construction make travel risky

Anantnag: The new, widened stretches of Srinagar-Qazigund highway, thrown open amid much fanfare recently, have become death traps for drivers in absence of any lights, reflectors and the fact that heavy construction is still going on along these stretches.
The new stretches bypassing major towns like Khannabal, Bijbehara, Awantipora and Pampore were recently thrown open for traffic.
As a result most of the traffic on national highway is now plying on these roads, during the day and late into the night as well.
The roads however are not ready for traffic during the nights as no lights have been installed at major junctions and reflectors are missing from most of the places along the road, much to the inconvenience of night travelers.
“Only today in the wee hours a truck driver drove his vehicle over a divider in Lethpora area near Pampore,” local sources in Pampore said, adding that the driver expressed helplessness saying there were no reflecting signage to guide him in the darkness.
Another accident took place on the freshly opened Awantipora-Barsoo stretch of the highway, killing a truck driver from Rajouri, who was later identified as Muhammad Rasheed.
The fact that these new stretches are still under construction and at most of the places only one lane is functional adds to the woes of the drivers.
“The road is good, unlike what we are used to and the drivers tend to keep their accelerators pressed, which becomes lethal on a single lane with all the drivers almost flying,” Gulzar Ahmad, a Tavera driver told Kashmir Reader.
Construction is going on along the Awantipora-Barsoo stretch as well as the Sangam-Khodweni stretch.
On the Sangam-Khodweni stretch the construction is going on adjacent to the railway tracks making it all the more dangerous for the drivers.
People are questioning the wisdom of the authorities to have thrown open these stretches for traffic pre-maturely putting lives in danger.
“Either they should have waited to throw these stretches open or they should speed up the process of installing lights and reflectors,” commuters, Kashmir Reader talked to, said.
People rue that the old highway has devoured so many lives in the recent past and the purpose of the widening gets nullified if such mishaps continue.
The Vice President of the executing agency RAMKY constructions, Aijaz Hussain, told Kashmir Reader that the process was an ongoing one.
“We have installed reflectors at most of the places. Yes the lights are yet to be installed at the junctions but that will be done soon,” Hussain said.
Asked if it was haste on part of the authorities to throw these incomplete stretches open, Hussain lamented that people do not wait in any case.
“People have been using these stretches even before they were thrown open. But we are on it and the whole thing will be completed soon,” Hussain said.

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