ISLAMABAD - The recently-completed phase-I of the Swat Motorway has diverted the bulk of traffic from the existing Swat-Peshawar highway, the lone artery connecting the scenic north-western areas of KP province with Islamabad-Peshawar Motorway (M1), says a report published by Gwadar Pro on Thursday.

It said this project has put an end to the traffic mess on the road passing through the most populous region of the province.

The traditional 4-lane Swat-Peshawar highway passes through Charsadda/Nowshera, Mardan, Malakand and Dir districts. These districts are densely populated and during the past decades, scores of towns and cities have grown on both sides of this road.  

One of the first two Special Economic Zones under CPEC, the Rashakai SEZ, also falls in this belt.

According to the report, a 60-km stretch of the road from Rashakai to Dargai used to remain blocked for hours in the past due to heavy traffic load. Now with the dramatic drop in vehicular count, traffic movement on this highway has smoothened and the graph of fatal accidents has declined.

For decades, for people of north-eastern parts of KP, taking this road to travel to Peshawar or Islamabad was a nightmare, especially when there was no alternate route, and the haphazard traffic was a big source of road accidents that occurred frequently.

The project is not part of CPEC but had been initiated by the provincial government on a build, operate and transfer (BOT) basis to provide for an alternate route parallel to the main CPEC corridor passing through KP’s north-eastern Hazara region.