China is going to undertake three new infrastructure projects with an estimated cost of $1 billion under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), said Chairman National Highway Authority (NHA) Shahid Ashraf Tarar.
“National Highway Authority launched projects worth Rs. 1,400 billion during the last three years, which is contributing 1-1.5 percent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP),” claimed Tarar while briefing a selected group of media persons about the progress on various highway and motorway projects currently underway including the all important CPEC.
NHA had launched 13 motorway projects with a length of 1,800 km where three projects have been completed while most of the remaining projects would be completed by the end of 2018, said chairman NHA, adding that projects worth Rs. 400 billion were started under the CPEC framework, Rs. 373 billion on BoT basis, Rs. 500 billion on GoP and some others are on multilateral basis.
The chairman claimed that due to increased transparency in procurement process and increased competition through web based tendering, NHA has saved Rs. 241 billion while Public Sector Development Program (PSDP) allocation for NHA has been increased from Rs. 62 billion in 2013-14 to Rs. 320 billion in 2017-18.
In the annual audit report for year 2016-17, Auditor General acknowledged that management of NHA has carried out an independent review of cost effective procurement of major projects undertaken by NHA during the period 1st July 2013 to 31st December 2016.
According to the report NHA entered into contracts for 104 projects worth Rs. 761.90 billion against the bid price/engineer’s estimate of Rs. 978.29 billion, resulting in savings of Rs. 216.39 billion.
In addition, another saving of Rs. 134.889 billion was observed by undertaking certain important and imperative projects on BOT basis without any financing from the government exchequer, said chairman while quoting AGP report.
Tarar further said that NHA’s revenue increased by 42 percent i.e. from Rs. 17.74 billion in 2013-14 to Rs. 25.18 in 2016-17.
He further said that the country is witnessing unprecedented road development activity that will take the length of motorway network to around 2,400 km in next two to three years.
No Part of The Country Ignored
The chairman said the most important aspect of the development activity was its all inclusive nature where no province or part of the country would be ignored or left out. He said that a record numbers 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 in those areas.
Hazara Motorway (59 km) will be opened for traffic by the end of this year whereas a 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.
Further, 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.
Chairman NHA said the early development of western corridor was one of NHA’s top priorities and its 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 added that work on dualization of D.I.Khan-Zhob (210 km) and Khuzdar-Basima (110 km) (that were included in CPEC during the meeting of Joint Coordination Committee JCC held in Beijing in December 2016) would start soon. These would cost Rs. 81 billion and Rs. 20 billion, respectively.
Projects in Balochistan
The Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC) approved PC-1 for the projects in April 2017 and currently the process of land acquisition is in progress. He said that 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. Naukundi-Panjgur (290 km) 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 of travel time.
Biggest BOT Regime
The chairman said that NHA had introduced the largest ever BOT (Built-Operate-Transfer) regime during the last three years. As a result the private sector, for the first time, has invested more than Rs. 300 billion in highway projects.
He said upgradation of Lahore-Islamabad Motorway and construction of Karachi-Hyderabad (M-9) and Lahore-Sialkot motorway were among the projects that were undertaken on a BOT basis, thus saving billions of rupees to the national exchequer. However, the chairman admitted that Sukkur-Haiderabad project has been delayed and would be completed by 2020.
He said special attention was given 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).