HOSHAB - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif yesterday inaugurated the Gwadar-Turbat-Hoshab Motorway, a key part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project linking the Gwadar seaport to rest of the country.

The inauguration ceremony was also attended by Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif, Balochistan Governor Mohammad Khan Achakzai, Chief Minister Sardar Sanaullah Zehri, Federal Minister Lt-Gen (r) Abdul Qadir Baloch, Adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security Affairs Lt-Gen (r) Nasir Janjua, Senator Hasil Bizenjo and former chief minister Abdul Malik Baloch.

This section, which is part of the 892km-long Gwadar-Ratodero Motorway (M-8), is a vital part of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, and will serve all Gwadar-bound traffic. The 193km-long highway would connect the western, central and eastern routes of the CPEC with the Gwadar Port. The motorway has been completed at a cost of Rs 13 billion in 18 months.

The prime minister travelled on the road in a military jeep driven by General Raheel Sharif.

Frontier Works Organisaton Director General Maj-Gen Muhammad Afzal also accompanied them as the trio drove on a patch of the new metalled road.

The prime minister who has keen observation and experience of personally supervising mega development projects noted the quality of the road and was appreciative as it was of international standards.

Speaking at the inaugural ceremony, the prime minister said that work on the motorway continued despite the poor law and order situation in the area.

He said the project would be of great benefit to Pakistan as it would link Gwadar to rest of the country.

“There was a time when this project only existed on paper. But, with the military’s help, we brought it to fruition,” he said.

The motorway project was initially started in 2004 but could not take off due to poor law and order situation, until it was awarded to the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) in June 2014.

He said these projects would bring huge benefits for the country as they would connect it with Central Asian Republics, China and Afghanistan.

He said Balochistan was being given preference for development and equal allocations were being made for the province. He also announced three road projects. The prime minister announced initiation of work on the Quetta-Khuzdar Dualisation project, Basima-Khuzdar-Shahdadkot Road and Bella-Awaran-Hoshab Highway. He said the four-lane roads can later be expanded to six lanes to cater to growing traffic.

Sharif said several projects had been initiated to link Gwadar with rest of the country. In the past, mineral resources of the province were not properly utilised, but the present government was committed to use them for the progress and development of Balochistan, he added.

The premier referred to mega projects like Diamer-Bhasha Dam, Dasu Dam and Bunji Dam and said each of them would generate 4000 MW of electricity.

Sharif lauded Army Chief General Raheel Sharif for his whole-hearted support in addressing the problems of Balochistan and welfare of its people.

Sharif said his government accords top priority to development in Balochistan and said the construction of the road was a dream came true. He said that Pakistan’s prosperity was in the prosperity of Balochistan.

The prime minister said the completion of the M-8 reflects his government’s vision of a bright and prosperous Balochistan and a well connected region.

He said the government was not only focussing on construction of roads alone but equal attention was also being given to other sectors that would usher in an era of prosperity in the country.

The prime minister said the Central Asian Republics were keen to use the elaborate network of roads in Pakistan to reach to the open seas. He said the road linkage would not only benefit Pakistan alone, but also around three billion people of the entire region.

He said his government did not believe in mere rhetoric and was focussing on real development for a lasting impact.

He paid rich tributes to all those who laid down their lives for the completion of the project, that would eventually link to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and would be part of the CPEC.

He said it was a very important link that would connect country’s southern areas to northern and help generate economic activity.

He said the FWO was already working on the Jalalabad-Peshawar linkage and said the country would soon have a robust network of roads linking with its neighbours.

He said the FWO was also working on re-surfacing of the M2 Lahore-Islamabad Motorway as it was overdue and said it would be a new road, once it is completed.

The prime minister also mentioned his recent visit to Sahiwal Coal Power project and said the government’s objective was not only to produce additional electricity, but also to produce it at cheaper rates so that it can usher in prosperity at a rapid rate. He said by 2018 Pakistan would address most of its energy shortage.

The prime minister mentioned the several hydel projects in Northern Areas that would add thousands of Megawatts of additional power in the long term. He said international agencies have also noted the positive economic indicators of Pakistan.

He said Gwadar would have an international airport and would have a modern hospital and educational institutions.

DG FWO Maj General Muhammad Afzal briefed the prime minister about the project.

Separately, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif on Wednesday visited Hoshab area in Southern Balochistan to inspect new roads being built by army engineers as part of the CPEC.

According to DG ISPR Lt-Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa, General Raheel Sharif lauded the pace and quality of work done by the FWO.

In Pasni, the COAS held a meeting with Balochistan governor, chief minister and chief secretary.