ISLAMABAD - The government of Pakistan has kicked-off a two-year project to formulate a “National Transport Policy” which will cover railways, roads, ports and shipping, aviation and logistics services.

The project seeks to create a safe, efficient and sustainable transport system to realise Pakistan’s Vision 2025. Pakistan envisages a comprehensive national transport policy and a master plan that will help cut travel time and costs. It will boost the country’s economic outlook by positioning Pakistan as a regional hub for trade and business.

The government of the United Kingdom through its Department for International Development (DFID) is funding this project under its Pakistan Economic Corridors Programme (PECP). The project will be administered by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The National Transport Policy complements co-financing by the DFID and the ADB for roads in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab. The DFID and the ADB are also supporting Sindh and Punjab to develop more commercially viable public-private partnerships to meet Pakistan’s infrastructure needs.

At the project’s inception workshop held in Islamabad, DFID Pakistan Head Joanna Reid and ADB Country Director Werner E Liepach joined Minister of Planning, Development and Reform Ahsan Iqbal to underscore the importance of an effective transport policy that will facilitate more local and regional trade, create jobs and boost economic growth.

In his remarks, the minister said, “With the substantial expected investment in infrastructure under the CPEC in the coming years and increased proposed development in infrastructure projects to meet the targets set in the financial year 2013-18 and Vision 2025, it is extremely important that we formulate a National Transport Policy which not only addresses the transport sector issues but is inclusive and all stakeholders are taken on board.”

Talking about the initiative, Joanna said, “The National Transport Policy will complement government efforts to improve transport and trade infrastructure. This will improve local and regional trade. Well planned, safe, better maintained and regionally connected transport infrastructure is the key to unlocking the economic growth potential of Pakistan. The new policy should work for all Pakistanis including women and girls and it should be climate smart to truly meet Pakistan’s Vision 2025”.

On the occasion, Liepach said, “Inefficiencies in the performance of the transport sector costs Pakistan’s economy 4 to 6 percent of gross domestic product every year. The ADB and other partners have been assisting Pakistan to address the transport infrastructure deficit, but such infrastructure investment needs to be backed with the institutional improvement and policy intervention.”

Pakistan suffers from inadequate and poor quality transport infrastructure which is estimated to cost the economy between 4 to 6 percent of the GDP. A more coherent approach to transport planning and maintenance including railway, roads, ports and airports will help reduce the time and cost of transport in Pakistan.

It will also improve road safety reducing the number of lives lost in road accidents.

This policy will formulate a holistic vision and prioritised action plan to upgrade Pakistan’s transport sector offering long-term opportunities for all transport modes. Improvement of road safety programmes, road asset management systems, scaling up resources for better road design and maintenance and supporting multimodal transport to facilitate trade within Pakistan and with its neighbouring countries, are other key targets of the initiative.