ppostnews: The Chinese government has included four new road projects, costing over Rs350 billion, to the original plans of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Talking to The Express Tribune, an official close to the matter revealed that the decision was taken at the fifth meeting of the CPEC Joint Working Group of Transport Infrastructure held in Karachi on Saturday.
The meeting was attended by Communication Minister Dr Hafiz Abdul Kareem, Communication Secretary Muhammad Siddique, National Highway Authority (NHA) Chairperson Shahid Ashraf Tarar. The Chinese delegation was headed by Ministry of Transport Vice Minister HE Dai Dongchang.
The Chinese government had agreed to include the four projects in the CPEC portfolio during a meeting held on December 29, 2016 in Beijing, but only gave the final approval during the meeting, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“Pakistan will be able to complete these roads because China is financing them, otherwise we will never have sufficient funds to complete them,” he added.
The four road projects that will be connected to the CPEC include Mirpur-Muzaffarabad-Mansehra (MMM), the Chitral CPEC Link Road (Gilgit-Shindor-Chitral), the Naukundi-Mashkel-Panjgur Road that will connect National highway N-40 with CPEC Route N-85 and Zhob-Kuchlak which is part of the Western Corridor CPEC Phase-II project.
The MMM road project will stretch across 200 km and cost an estimated Rs264 billion. A detailed feasibility of the project has been completed and it will be the shortest route from Central Punjab to CPEC, through AJK. It will shorten the route by 50 km and save around four to six hours of travelling. It is planned that the route will have six interchanges, four service areas, three weighing stations and four tunnels.
The Gilgit-Shindor-Chitral Road will cost an estimated Rs45 billion to build and will stretch across 354 km.
The construction of Naukundi-Mashkel-Panjgur Road will cost an estimated Rs20 billion and span across 290km. It will shorten the existing route by 722 km and save approximately 10 hours of travel time.
The Zhob-Kuchlak (Western Corridor CPEC Phase-II project) will span across 305 km.
The China-Pakistan Transport Joint Working Group agreed to upgrade a section as a short-term project. A detailed design of the projects will be completed by November 2017 while land acquisition for the same along the existing route has already begun.