Pakistan ranks at 21th position worldwide for the size of its road network, according to available data. The country is likely to improve its ranking and quality significantly with the construction of new mega projects under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
According to a report by Competition Commission of Pakistan citing CIA’s Factbook, the total length of roads in the country stands at 264,401 km currently, a figure which includes both high and low type roads.
In 1947, Pakistan inherited 50,367 km of roads out of which 9,809 km roads were of a high type and 40,558 km of a low type. Over time this network has expanded.
During 2017, the total length of roads, including that of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), has increased to 264,401 thousand km which include both high and low type roads, the report said.
According to the official CPEC website, five major road construction projects are underway, with a total length of 966km having an estimated cost of $5.34 billion.
Under the CPEC umbrella, road construction projects are being funded by the Government of Pakistan under PSDP as well as by the Government of China.
Different parts of motorways and highways of nearly 1,035 kilometers will be completed in the coming months of 2018 by National High Authority (NHA). There are many such projects being planned and developed in the upcoming years by the government and NHA under a public-private partnership basis.
The development of road projects under CPEC and NHA will not only improve the ranking of the country but it will also enhance the quality of the road network, transportation and logistics as well.
According to the World Economic Forum, Pakistan ranks at 77th for its road network quality.
The quality of the road network is being upgraded gradually due to road construction and development projects under the different highway and motorway programs through Pakistan Sector Development Program (PSDP).
Given the 264,401 kilometer road network in Pakistan, about 187,807 km of it is considered as high quality by the national authorities. About 75,549 kilometers of the road network is considered to be of low quality.
In Pakistan, road transportation is the preferred mode of transportation for the movement of goods as well as people. Road transportation is preferred over rail and air transportation because it is more economical and time-saving. In the remote and rural areas, road transportation is the only available form of transportation for people and freight movement.
Punjab has the highest share with 41% of the road network. It is followed by Sindh at 31%, KP at 16%, Balochistan at 11%, and GB at 1%.
Road Projects Contribute to Economy
Developed roads, highways, bridges and ports play a pivotal role in the economic development of a country. The growth and development of other sectors of the economy depend considerably on the development of a sound infrastructure of roads.
During the year 2016-17, Pakistan’s GDP showed about 5.28 percent growth. The services sector contributed 59.59 percent to the GDP. Transport and Communication, a sub-section of the services sector, contributed 13.27 percent in the GDP and 22.3 percent in the services sector. It grew by 3.94 percent during the year 2016-17.
Photo Credits — Haseeb Bokhari