Road infrastructure under CPEC boosts Pak economy lump

ISLAMABAD: The National Highway Authority (NHA) is expanding the road infrastructure under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to put the country on the fast track of economic development and prosperity, WealthPK reported on Saturday.
It is in line with the vision that a well-developed road infrastructure significantly speeds up the economic growth of a country. Expansion of road infrastructure raises economic efficiency and competitiveness, improves travel quality and safety, and generates jobs.
The NHA currently operates 39 national highways, motorways, expressways, and strategic roads, which are Pakistan’s major inter-provincial road links, comprising 12,131 kilometres.
Accounting for 4.6% of Pakistan’s overall road network of 263,775 kilometres, it handles 80% of commercial traffic.
The major artery the NHA operates is the 1,819 kilometres National Highway-5 or N-5, which is the longest as far as the length is concerned and covers a major part of Pakistan, extending all the way from Karachi to Torkham border with Afghanistan. Considered as the country’s lifeline, the N-5 carries 65% of the total load.
The construction of new highways and expansion of the existing ones is also necessary in the context of Pakistan’s strategically important location as the country connects through Afghanistan with the land-locked Central Asian Republics and as far as China.
The development of Gwadar Deep-Sea Port has also made it all the more important for Pakistan to have a robust road infrastructure for speedy shipment of transnational goods. Torkham and Chaman are the two main points, which currently handle 84% and 16% of the transit trade, respectively.
The CPEC, which is part of the larger Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), has helped China gain sea access to Pakistan. The multi-billion-dollar venture has also helped Pakistan expand its trade ties by developing new industrial zones along the corridor.
A look at the 2021-22 Public Service Development Programme (PSDP) shows that the NHA’s present portfolio consists of 47 ongoing projects worth Rs99 billion. Of the total amount, over Rs20 billion is foreign funding, and the remaining over Rs78 billion comes from domestic sources, WealthPK reported.
The PSDP 2021-22 also includes 15 new schemes with a total estimated cost of over Rs14 billion.
The programme includes six new projects on a Built-Operate-and-Transfer (BOT) basis, with an estimated cost of over Rs41 billion.
Under the CPEC, NHA has launched different projects to provide smooth and efficient transport system.
According to the CPEC Authority, NHA has already completed construction of Burhan-Havelian, Havelian-Thakot Expressway (E-35) and Sukkur-Multan Motorway-5 at a cost of over Rs34 billion, Rs136 billion and Rs298 billion, respectively.
Whereas, the 297km-long Hakla-D.I Khan Motorway costing over Rs122 billion is in the final stages of completion.
Furthermore, Zhob-Quetta (N-50) with a total length of 305km, Khuzdar-Basima Road (N-30) 106km, Hoshab-Awaran Road Section (M-8), Shandur-Chitral Road, and Nokundi-Mashkhel Road are under different stages of construction and approval.
The NHA is also working on a number of long-term projects, including the 200-kilometre Mirpur-Muzaffarabad-Mansehra Road; Maskhel-Pangur Road, Quetta Mass Transit, and Greater Peshawar Regional Mass Transit, all of which are now in the design and feasibility stages.
The CPEC’s vision and mission to enhance geographical linkages, and economic development through trade linkages can be attained by improving transportation infrastructure.
Pakistan will be able to accrue full benefit of this gigantic project through an upgraded and expanded road network in order to meet the future potential increases in traffic and product movement.
While expanding the road networks, innovative financing techniques, private sector participation and environmental concerns must all be taken care of. – INP

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