ISLAMABAD - Making a steady progress on the dream project to connect Pakistan and China through a viable road link, a Chinese company has operationalised two long tunnels at Havelian-Thakot section of Karakorum Highway (KKH) under the CPEC project.

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"Two, out of the six tunnels have been made operational at a very difficult track, while work on the remaining tunnels is in final stages and would be completed as per the schedule time," Zhu Jiangfan project manager of China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) told media.

He further informed that the total lengthen of tunnels are 10.3 kilometers and the total cost of the project is about $ 1.3 billion, under which 118.124 km road divided into three sections would be constructed.

Elaborating, he said "the first section is from Havelian to Abbottabad with 27 km length, the design speed is 100km/h two-way, 4-lane highway standard.

, the second stage is from Abbottabad to Mansehea with 11.88 km length, the design speed is 80 km/h two-way 4-lane expressway standard, the third section from Manshera to Thakot is 78.81 km long and designed in two-lane with speed of 60 km/h."

The main structures included 60 large bridges, 45 middle and small bridges, 11 flyovers, 464 culverts, 40 underpasses, six tunnels (2 in Expressway section, four in Class-II Highway), three interchanges, 2 service areas, three tunnel management stations and six tool stations, he added.

He said that currently, around 60 percent work has been completed. The Hazara Motorway from Hakla (M-1) to Shah Maqsood Interchange has already been completed and opened for traffic. He further said that more than 200 mountains were chopped for the construction of the road with modern machinery for timely completion of the project.

He said Chinese standard and specifications are adopted on the design and construction of the project, the roadbed with expressway section is 24 km and 12.3m in the class-II Highway.

To another question, the project manager said that about 70 percent work force had been employed from Pakistan while only 30 percent were hired from the China. "We preferred to hire the workforce from Pakistan as it's cheaper as compared to China. We only invite technical workers from the China if these not available in the Pakistan" he added.

Zhu said that under such difficult conditions, the staff always adheres to the vision of "making world smoother, making cities more livable and living better" and abide by the corporate tenet of "building road and bridges, contributing to the society,  taking people as the center and pursuing excellence. He said that price of the land along road had witnessed sharp increase and completion of the project would pave the way for agricultural and industrial development and open up new avenues of economic uplift and generate new opportunities of employment.

He said that the completion of project will be another landmark of bilateral cooperation which would further strengthen the ties between the two countries. He said that the project had created job opportunities for the local and hopefully would improve living standard.

He said to ensure protection of environment, he said, tree plantation drive had also been launched, while plane grass had also been planted along the road.

Riasat Ali, a local resident told the media that before starting of the project, the area was considered to be backward as there was no road and no job opportunities for the local. But now, he said, locals are getting jobs and market value of their land has also witnessed a sharp increase. He said the project would connect the area with motorway network, opening a new era of public prosperity.