ISLAMABAD - A 91-kilometre-long Lahore-Si­alkot Motorway (M-11) was made operational on Wednes­day by opening it for public.

The project will reduce total distance between both the cities from two and half hours to only 15 minutes.

The project was initiated by the previous government of Pa­kistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) in 2017. The project is completed by Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) on Built Operate Transfer (BOT) mode. The maintenance and operation of said motorway would remain with FWO for next 25 years after which the road would be hand­ed over to the National High­ways Authority.

When contacted, a spokesper­son for NHA Muhammad Saleem confirmed that the motorway has been opened for commut­ers on Wednesday. He informed that the inauguration ceremony of this project could not be ar­ranged due to the emergence of corona virus.

According to the NHA docu­ments, the four-lane motorway having two lanes on each side has been completed at the cost of around Rs.43 billion. There are 7 interchanges, 6 flyovers, 24 bridges, 22 underpasses, 13 subways and 274 culverts have been included in this project.

The motorway starts from La­hore where it is connected with eastern bypass and Ring Road while its first interchange is sit­uated at Kala Shah Kaku which joins it with N-5, commonly known as GT Road as well as the Lahore-Islamabad Motorway (M-2).

Its second interchange links Muridke and Narowal while third interchange connects Aimanabad and Wando. The fourth interchange links district Gujranwala and Pasroor while the fifth one is between Daska and Pasroor.

The sixth interchange falls be­tween the Daska and Sialkot while the last interchange is sit­uated around 15km in the west of Sialkot city.

It is pertinent to mention here that this is the place which is considered as a gateway to Sialkot, Kharian and Wazirabad.

When contacted by The Na­tion, MNA from Sialkot and a senior leader of PML-N Kha­waja Muhammad Asif main­tained that the completion of Lahore-Sialkot Motorway is the fulfilment of another promise made by his leader Nawaz Sha­rif — the former prime minister.

“It was the vision of Nawaz Sha­rif to connect all regions through infrastructure to strengthen the federation of Pakistan”, he said, adding; “We had the plan to ex­tend said motorway from Sialkot to Dina via Kharian and then it was to be linked with proposed Mirpur to Muzaffarabad Motor­way and Lahore-Islamabad Mo­torway (M-2) by crossing Rawat at Rawalpindi.

He criticised by saying that the incumbent government is visionless and its agenda is de­struction not the development.

The completion of this long-awaited project will im­prove connectivity of industri­al triangle of Sialkot, Gujranwa­la, Gujrat-Wazirabad to the rest of the country especially Lahore — resulting in a big boost to exports.

The area was a key manufac­turing part of the country, ac­counting for about 15 percent of Pakistan’s annual exports. Exports from Sialkot included sports goods, surgical equip­ment, leather garments, riding gear, polo equipment, badges, motorbike accessories and ag­ricultural products including the world-famous Basmati rice. The neighbouring Gujranwala is the center of ceramics and tex­tile products, while Wazirabad and Gujrat provide a big share of cutlery.