ISLAMABAD - The National Highway Council gave a green signal to ‘re-launch’ the process of leasing the NHA’s Right of Way for business purposes to private individuals, but in a transparent manner.

Earlier, the lease of ROW was banned by the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet in 2006 and barred NHA from granting new leases in ROW of its road networks.

Currently, there are 86 valid leases in NHA ROW while 114 leases had also been cancelled since the moratorium imposed on the process. In most of the case, these leases were granted decades ago on throwaway prices to powerful people in highly tainted manner.

However, when contacted, the Chairman NHA Jawad Rafique Malik explained that the Highway Council gave the approval to a policy, which would make the process to lease out the ROW fully transparent and competitive.

“We will give the advertisement in newspapers and lease out the earmarked locations through open bidding”, he maintained, adding: “There will be no first-come-first-serve formula to allot precious locations to blue eyed people.

He explained that the policy if got approval by ECC would help NHA to increase its revenue.

According to a statement issued by NHA, 114 sites located in NHA’s ROW will be leased out while more than 15 sites are also identified for leasing purpose.

Meanwhile, the NHC also upheld a policy to allow private entities to get direct access from the NHA’s controlled access road network like motorways, expressways and link roads.

Earlier, an interchange to approach the controlled access network was only possible through Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) with the approval of federal government but now the private entities like housing societies, medical cities, commercial hubs, factory outlets and theme parks would also be allowed to construct interchanges at motorways but with their own resources by following certain terms and conditions.

The meeting of NHC was held at the Ministry of Communications under the chair of the Federal Minister of Communications Murad Saeed while it was attended by the Secretary Ministry of Communications, Secretary Finance Division, Secretary Planning and Development Division, Highway Construction and Management Professional, Finance and Accounts Professional and Chairman National Highway Authority.

According to the statement issued by NHA, Murad Saeed said that corruption in motorways and national highway schemes shall not be tolerated at any level. Process of leasing out NHA’s Right of Way (ROW) for business purpose must be made absolutely transparent.

Murad Saeed stressed upon the need of seeking new ways and means to increase revenue level so that this organization could meet its financial requirement through its own resources. This will also help decrease load on national exchequer. 

The Federal Minster for Communications also desired routine maintenance and beautification of road network to make journey safe and sound and environment friendly. 

In order to ensure transparency in NHA projects, he desired open bidding of all the leases of NHA’s ROW in presence of media.