A parliamentary panel on Thursday was irked over the continued absence of Federal Minister for Communications and Secretary Finance from the meeting, which was to discuss China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Eastern/Western and common routes.
The Senate Standing Committee on Communications, which met with Hidayatullah Khan in the chair, observed that federal minister for Communications Murad Saeed never bothered to attend the committee meeting.
“CPEC is an important project and the minister should attend the meeting.”
The Committee also expressed anguish at the absence of Secretary Finance from the meeting without intimation. Discussion on progress report on CPEC Easter/Western and common routes was deferred and it was decided to file a privilege motion against the Secretary.
To a question, chairman National Highway Authority (NHA) said that completed projects of motorways would be opened with the mutual understanding of China as the projects were launched under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
The Committee was told regarding the Multan-Sukkur Motorway that the process for taking over certificate is underway and the aim is to open the Shah Maqsood-Mensehra section of the Hazara Motorway by the end of this month. The delays are due to some geometry and design issues with the addition of frequent rains. Hazara Motorway was expected to be opened at the end of this month as the work was near its completion.
The committee directed the NHA to resolve the pending issues of the public residing along the National Highways and Motorways.
The parliamentary panel discussed the matter of land of local residents on both sides of Super Highway (M-9 Motorway) and also touched upon the reports of CNICs being checked by WFO on M-9 without any authorization.
The Committee recommended stopping this practice while also calling upon better training and capacity building of the staff deployed at the toll plazas and other points. The Committee called for improving the lighting and other facilities in the tunnels and other parts of the road.
The Committee was given briefing by Member West Zone NHA regarding the overall progress of the construction of Khuzdar-Shahdad Kot section of Gwadar-Ratodero Road, M-8 Section IV, and Package III.
The Committee was told that the original PC-I was of Rs 23.168 billion and award of works was given in 1999. The original date of completion was in 2006. Now, the aim is to complete package III till December 2019 but this deadline is subject to availability of funds.
The revised PC-I is of Rs38.02 billion and the incomplete section runs along 51.12 kilometres. The body was also informed that M-8 section-IV from Gwadar to Ratodero has not yet been completed due to lack of funding and due to the negligence within the institution.
Chairman of the committee said that no contractor should be provided next project until they completed previous ones. He said that the contractors working on this section should be banned for their negligence. NHA chairman assured to take action against the concerned people.
Senator Salahuddin raised the land issue of the people living on Kaghan-Babusar Pass road saying that their payments had been pending for last 17 years. He made a symbolic walkout along other senators to record his protest against NHA for not paying attention to this long-standing issue.
The chairman of the committee directed the NHA chairman and secretary communication to inform the Senate body about the factual situation regarding the said issue in next meeting.
The committee also recommended that the issues including the payments of land allocation on Kaghan-Babusar Pass, awaiting completion of section IV of M-8 and construction of flyover and U-Turn on M-9 should be resolved on urgent basis.
Secretary Communication briefed the committee members that the width of land provided for the establishment of M-2 section from Islamabad to Lahore was wider than M-9 section established from Karachi to Hyderabad.
Chairman NHA said that none of the highway could be changed into the Motorway, adding M-9 was a superhighway but it was changed into Motorway under the policy of previous government.
Moula Bux Chandio while criticizing the M-9 project said that rickshaws and motorcycles were seen on the road. It was not as per standard of the motorway, he added. Secretary communication replied that this chapter had been closed for future as no highway would be converted into motorway in future.
The committee recommended that the issues being faced by general public on M-9 section should be resolved.
The meeting was also attended among others by Senators Dr Jehanzeb Jamaldini, Syed Muhammad Sabir Shah, Lt. Gen. (Retd) Salahuddin Tirmizi, Bahramand Khan Tangi, Islamuddin Shaikh, Gianchand, Mir Muhammad Yousaf Badini, Moula Bux Chandio, Secretary Communication Jawwad Rafique, Chairman NHA Capt (Retd) Sikander Qayyum, and other concerned officials.