ISLAMABAD  -   An on-ground inspection of a project for construction of additional carriageway between Jamshoro to Sehwan on Indus Highway (N-55) revealed that progress on the first two awarded packages is almost 50 percent lesser than the planned pace of work.

The 1264-kilometre-long Indus Highway , running along right bank of Indus River, is the shortest North-South route of the country which links port city of Karachi with the North-Western city of Peshawar through Dera Ghazi Khan.

Construction of dual carriageway and improvement of the route is quite vital because it will not only provide the shortest route to commuters but will also reduce traffic load on Grand Trunk Road (N-5) which is a preferred choice for commercial and passenger traffic for its connection with commercial centres of the country and better riding quality besides the fact that it is about 265 kilometres longer than the Indus Highway .

Initially, the project for construction of additional carriageway at Petaro-Sehwan section of the Indus Highway was initiated by National Highway Authority (NHA) with the financial assistance of Asian Development Bank (ADB).

However, later, with partial financial arrangements by Sindh government, the NHA separated this 64-kilometre-long section from the funding of the ADB.

Sindh government showed its willingness to share 50 percent cost of the project and placed Rs7 billion on the disposal of the NHA and it was accordingly planned to initiate the project under indigenous funding.

It is planned that under the project, the existing 2-lane Petaro-Sehwan road will be converted into dual carriageway with a total of 33 meter wide right of way. The section was divided into 3 packages but the work was awarded for only two Packages as the tender on third package was cancelled by the NHA executive board. 

The bidding process of Section-II under ADB is also near to its final award after approval from the NHA Executive Board.

Package-I and II having a length of 20 kilometres each were commenced in June 2018 and it was planned that the projects would be completed in one year. However, the progress on ground is almost half as compared to originally envisioned in the basic plan.

The Package-I and Package-II are being constructed by contractors AMC-Mishal Sania (JV) and HASAS-SARWAR (JV), respectively. The progress on package-I is 4% as compared to the planned 9.1 per cent while it is 4.9% as compared to 9.3% planned progress for package-II.

According to a final report submitted to Secretary Ministry of Communication, the contractors of Package-I are under severe financial constraints, as they are also struggling to complete the remaining work of M-8 section in Balochistan.

It was further highlighted in the report that construction machinery was not up to the required level and it needed further reinforcement.

However, when contacted, the concerned persons in NHA were fully optimistic that the back log of work would be covered in near future.