Country is witnessing unprecedented road development activity: Chairman NHA

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The country is witnessing an unprecedented road development activity that will take the length of Motorway network to around 2400 km in next two to three years. This was stated by Chairman National Highway Authority (NHA), Shahid Ashraf Tarar today while briefing media about the progress on various highway and motorway projects currently under execution including the all important China Pakistan Economic corridor. The chairman said the most important aspect of the development activity was its all inclusive nature where no province or part of the country felt to be ignored or left out. He said the record number of projects were under construction in Balochistan and other less developed parts of the country which had contributed tremendously in boosting the economic prospects of the people of those areas.

He said there were thirteen major motorway projects out of which three namely Islamabad-Peshawar (M-1), Islamabad -Lahore (M-2) and Pindi Bhattian – Faisalabad (M-4) had already been completed while the rest were in various stages of execution and would hopefully completed by the end of 2018. He said Hazara Motorway (59 km) will be opened for traffic by the end of this year whereas 39 km stretch from Havelian to Mansehra will be opened in April 2018. The distance from Islamabad to Mansehra will be reduced to just one and a half hour, he said. Similarly, Lahore-Abdul Hakim Motorway (230 km) will be completed and opened in March 2018 while two sections of Multan – Sukkur Motorway including Multan to Uch Sharif and Sukkur to Sadiqabad will also be completed by June 2018.

He said the early development of western corridor was NHA ‘s top priorities and it’s Hakla – D-I-Khan section (285 km) will be completed by the end of 2018 thus reducing the distance from Islamabad to Dera Ismail Khan to less than three hours. He said work on dualization of D.I.Khan – Zhob and (210 km) and Khuzdar-Basima (110 km) that were included in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) during the meeting of Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) held in Beijing in December 2016 would start soon. These would cost around Rs. 81 billion and Rs. 20 billion respectively. The Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC) approved PC-1 for the projects in April 2017 and currently the process of land acquisition was in progress. He said that the CPEC’s Joint Working Group on Transport, in its meeting in September in Karachi, approved two more projects for Balochistan including the dualization of Zhob-Kuchlac (Western Corridor) and construction of Naukundi-Mashkel-Panjgur road for CPEC and recommended their financing. Zhob-Kuchlak (305 km) would cost around Rs. 20 billion. Its detailed design is completed while the land acquisition is underway. Similarly, Naukundi-Panjgur (290km) road would cost around Rs. 20 billion. Pre-feasibility study of the project is completed while detailed design is in progress. It will connect national highway N-40 with CPEC route N-85 and shorten the route by 772 km thus saving almost 10 hours travel time.

The chairman informed that NHA had introduced the largest ever BOT (Built-Operate-Transfer) regime during the last three years with the result that private sector for the first time invested more than 300 billion rupees in highway projects. He said upgradation of Lahore-Islamabad Motorway and construction of Karachi-Hyderabad (M-9) and Lahore-Sialkot motorway were among those projects that were undertaken through BOT thus saving billions of rupees to the national exchequer.

He said special attention was paid to revive and complete those projects which were initiated long ago but had stalled for various reasons. These included Lowari Tunnel (revived and completed in July 2017), Lyari Expressway (near completion) and Gawadar-Sorab highway (completed).

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