Islamabad - The country is witnessing an unprecedented road development activity that will take the length of Motorway network to around 2400km in the next two to three years.

This was stated by the Chairman National Highway Authority (NHA), Shahid Ashraf Tarar on Tuesday while briefing media about the progress of various highway and motorway projects currently under-execution including the all-important China Pakistan Economic Corridor.

The chairman said that the most important aspect of the development activity was its all inclusive nature where no province or part of the country felt ignored or left out. He said that a record number of projects were under-construction in Balochistan and other less developed parts of the country, which have contributed tremendously in boosting the economic prospects of the people of those areas.

He said there were 13 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 be completed by the end of 2018.  He said that Hazara Motorway (59km) will be opened for traffic by the end of this year whereas 39km 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 (230km) 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 early development of the Western corridor was NHA’s top priority and its Hakla-DI 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 dualisation of DI Khan-Zhob and (210 km) and Khuzdar-Basima (110km) that were included in the CPEC during the meeting of Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) held in Beijing in December 2016 would start soon.

These would cost around Rs81 billion and Rs20 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 dualisation 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 Rs20 billion. Its detail 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 the 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 which is revived and completed in July 2017, Lyari Expressway is near completion and Gawadar-Sorab highway is completed.