Western route of CPEC

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Naveed Aman Khan

 THE western route of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is going to be completed by the end of this year along with other 11 mega projects which were initiated in 2015-16. The completion of those projects will reduce travelling time and boost economic activities. Hakla-D.I.Khan, having the length of 285 km with a cost of Rs.122 billion and 81 km Zhob-Mughalkot costing Rs.8.8 billion funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) will be completed by December 2018. The completion of these two projects will connect the port city of Gwadar with Quetta by Khuzdar. With it the western route will become completely functional. The under-construction projects – the Hakla to Dera Ismail Khan Motorway – is an important part of the western route of CPEC and will reduce the travel time from Islamabad to D.I.Khan from five hours to just two and a half hours. It will greatly help the movement of the country’s southern cities such as Quetta and Gwadar.

Meanwhile, another important project – Khuzdar-Ratodero (151 km) – has been completed at a cost of Rs.8.8 billion. Though this project is not part of the CPEC, yet the significance of this project is that it will provide the much-needed connectivity between Balochistan and Sindh and also facilitate CPEC traffic originating from the Gwadar Port. Other projects include the Karachi-Hyderabad Motorway (M-9) where work has already been completed. The 136km, the six-lane motorway with the two-lane service road on either side, is being built on the BOT basis at a cost of Rs.44 billion. Being the country’s busiest section with over 30,000 daily traffic count, this motorway will be immensely helpful in catering to the commercial traffic originating from the Karachi Port and the Port Qasim.

Following the recent inauguration of the Lyari Expressway, M-9 has offered an added benefit to commuters to reach their destinations without facing the city congestions. Gojra-Shorkot (62km) and Shorkot-Khanewal (65km) sections of M-4 are complete with a cost of Rs.17 billion and Rs.22 billion respectively. Financed jointly by the Asian Development Bank and Government of Pakistan, their completion has reduced travel time from the federal capital to Multan to just 5 hours. Lahore-Abdulhakim Motorway (230 km) is another important project that is also completed. Built at a cost of Rs.148 billion, the six-lane motorway has provided a swift and easy route between Lahore and Multan.

One of the important links of CPEC and the country’s longest planned motorway, Multan-Sukkur (M-5) is scheduled to be completed in 2019. Its two sections Multan to Shujaabad and Pano Aqil to Ghotki will be completed this year. The 392 km long motorway is being financed by China at a cost of Rs.294 billion. Lahore-Sialkot Motorway (89 km) will be completed on the BOT mode by December at a cost of Rs.44 billion. It will link the industrial city of Sialkot with the rest of the country, leading to swift movement of industrial products. Hazara Motorway (E-35) from Burhan to Shah Maqsood Interchange (47km) has already been completed and open to traffic. The 15 km addition is completed and it has reduced the distance between Islamabad and Abbottabad to one and a half hours. The widening and improvement of G.T.Road section from Thokar Niaz Baig to Hudria Drain (10 km) is also completed. Road network is well spread in the entire country successfully. Easiest and shortest excess to the destination minimises the expenditure and fatigue. For Pakistan this road network and western route of CPEC is not less than a blessing. Now this is the right time to establish industrial zones along Grand Trunk Road, motorways and western route of China- Pakistan Economic Corridor so that common Pakistani could get direct benefit of all this exercise.

Government will have to facilitate industrialists and farmers to get more production. Pakistan is an agriculture country. Agro-based industries should be made more flourishing. Still over sixty five percent population depends upon agriculture. Along western route, agro industrial zone should be established so that both type of manpower could be made successfully part of this gigantic design. Government need to expedite the momentum of the advancement. It also needs to maintain balance in the development of the agro-industrial zones. Agriculture and industry goes all together. This balance can bring real economic revolution in the country. During my recent visit to China, I have observed that China has maintained balance in agricultural and industrial development. Planning is their key to success.

Their cities, industrial zones and agricultural fields are real examples of their marvellous planning. In the whole of China, all the industrial zones are established out of populous cities so that industrial waste and smoke could not damage population. Similarly wind mills are set up to meet the local needs of power. Along the road and rail tracks thousands of miles long cultivation is seen. China has very successfully utilised its resources in a positive and productive manner. We need to find inspiration from their ways and approach. We need to get benefit of our CPEC western and eastern zones. Productivity and positive direction will improve comfort of the masses. It will combat poverty, conservation as well as terrorism.

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