ISLAMABAD - The Asian Development Bank and United Kingdom will provide $270 million to Pakistan for the 62-kilometer section of the M-4 motorway connecting Gojra to Shorkot in Punjab.

The ADB will administer a $92 million grant from the UK government - through the Department for International Development (DFID) - in addition to providing a project loan of $178 million. The government will invest counterpart share of $46 million.

Werner E Liepach, ADB’s Country Director for Pakistan, and Muhammad Saleem Sethi, Secretary Economic Affairs Division (EAD), signed the agreement. Group Head, DFID in Pakistan, Louise Walker and Member Engineering Coordination, Arshad Mahmood Chaudhry were also present.

The four-lane motorway will boost the flow of trade and travel while reducing transportation cost and time from Pakistan’s textile producing hub Faisalabad towards Multan, which is the major trade center in southern Punjab. The M-4 motorway will provide a shorter and direct connection between central Punjab and port cities of Karachi and Gawadar. The M-4 motorway will open up new opportunities for the residents of Faisalabad, Jhang, Toba Tek Singh and Shorkot by providing faster access to bigger markets.

“The project demonstrates the ADB and DFID’s commitment towards the well-being of the people of Pakistan by assisting the government in promoting equitable growth and livelihood opportunities through investment in the vital transport infrastructure,” said ADB’s County Director. “Once complete, the project will not only facilitate faster and more efficient transportation of goods and people across Pakistan’s key business centers, it will also enable the National Highway Authority to build and maintain quality roads and ensure better road safety”.

In his remarks on the occasion, Secretary Economic Affairs Division thanked ADB and DIFD for providing vital support to Pakistan particularly for efficiency gain from road traffic operation along the National Transport Corridor. He assured Pakistan’s commitment to mobilize all out efforts and scale up practices for improving and developing inter-provincial linkages to improve local connectivity.

DFID’s acting Head of Office, Judith Herberston said, “The UK’s partnership with ADB and Government of Pakistan will help improve road safety and enhance local and regional trade.” An efficient network of highways is crucial to avoid transport bottlenecks, boost competitiveness and attract private sector investment, which in turn is essential for growth and sustainable development.

The M-4 is also a step towards positioning Pakistan to act as a transit artery for goods moving between the port city of Karachi in the south to Torkham on the northern border with Afghanistan via the country’s major business and population centers. The 1,800-kilometer route will also eventually link Pakistan’s ports with the land locked regions of Central Asia, and will allow Pakistan to reap dividends of its active membership in the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Program.

The M-4 motorway project, expected to be completed by November 2019, will support the National Highway Authority (NHA) to improve road management, maintenance and procurement capacity. It will also assist the NHA to enhance road safety through training, capacity development and by improving operational frameworks.