By Fakhar Alam
PESHAWAR, Jan 17 (APP):Strategically located in close proximity with Afghanistan and gateway to Central Asian Republics (CARs), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is going to become a hub of trade, industrialization and economic activities following construction of 365 kilometers long Dera Ismail Khan-Peshawar Motorway and 81 kilometers Swat Motorway (Phase-II).
The two mega projects would serve as trade corridors between Pakistan and Afghanistan and enable KP to fully capitalize on CPEC projects.
The provincial Government under its larger communication development programme has planned to construct state-of- the art Peshawar-Dera Ismail Khan Motorway to bolster regional connectivity and expedite pace of economic and industrial development in the relatively less developed southern districts of KP and seven merged tribal districts (erstwhile Fata).
It would become an international trade corridor (ITC) by providing direct access to Afghanistan and Central Asian Republics (CARs) to increase their exports through Karachi and Gwadar sea ports.
The 365 kilometers- long fenced motorway would be onward linked to CPEC western route for easy access to Gwadar seaport and Karachi in future having relatively shorter distance as compared to other CPEC routes besides reducing vehicles’ operating costs.
“Work on Peshawar-DI Khan Motorway is in an advanced stage and its detailed PC-I amounting to Rs276.599 billion have been submitted to Planning Commission (PC) for approval on January 5, 2021 while its ground-breaking ceremony would soon be held,” said Engr Burkatullah Khan, Project Director (PD), KP Highways Authority while talking to APP.
He said the project had been taken up with CPEC’s Joint Working Group (JWG) on October 10 and 11, 2019 under a new proposed roads project and it was decided to include it in CPEC framework. Later, it was also discussed in the 9th Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) meeting held in Islamabad on November 5, 2019 wherein it was agreed to consider it in the next JWG meeting after approval of PC-I by the planning commission.
The project director said in 8th CPEC JWG meeting held in Islamabad on October 26, 2020, it was decided to get the approval of its PC-I from respective forums including PC and ECNEC before upcoming JCC’s meeting, adding Provincial Development Working Party (PDWP) had also cleared its PC-I on December 21, 2020. He said the provincial government was also considering to execute the project under Public Private Partnership (PPP) during next four years if it was not included in CPEC, adding a development scheme had already been reflected in current ADP for the project with an allocation of Rs 320 million for 2020-21 and Rs 10 million during current financial year for conducting of feasibility studies and detained engineering designs.
Engr Barkatullah Khan said its feasibility studies were completed and the project was in advance approval stage.
The six-lane 365 kilometers long motorway would begin from Chamkani Area of Peshawar and would pass through Dara Adamkhel, Kohat, Hangu, Bannu, Lakki Marwat, Tank, and would finally terminate at Qureshi Mor in DI Khan on N-55 from southern side. It would also connect Punjab through Drya Khan bridge in Bhakkar district on River Indus and onwards to Sindh through N-55 besides linking through Hakla-Yarik Motorway and DI Khan-Zhob-Quetta Road leading to Gwadar sea port.
“The motorway would link South Waziristan, North Waziristan, Orakzai and Kurram tribal districts through links roads and 19 interchanges,” he said, adding it would be a completely fenced motorway having 365 km length, 100 meter right of way, two major tunnels with 120 kilometers per hour speed in plains and 60 kilometers per hour in hilly areas,” he said.
While terming it a game changer for southern and western districts of the province, the official said the project would be completed with an estimated cost of Rs 276.529 billion and with an additional cost of rupees 20 billion for purchase of land.
Two tunnels including one at Dara Adamkhel near Kohat of 5.6 kilometers long and 1.6 kilometers at Banda Daud Shah in Karak district would also be constructed. Terming Peshawar-DI Khan as a second motorway that would be constructed by PTI government after Swat Motorway Phase-I, he said arrangements for ground-breaking of 81-kilometer Swat Motorway Phase-II from Chakdara to Fatehpur Madyan was being finalized and as per Chief Minister KP directives, would be held in April this year.
“Initially Swat Motorway Phase-II would be four lane that would be extended to six lanes later having 120 kilometers per hour speed, nine interchanges, eight bridges on river Swat and 50 to 55 meters right of way,” he said, adding its estimated cost is Rs 37 billion and Rs 20 billion land cost,”he said.
The project director said Deputy Commissioners of Malakand and Swat have been asked to enforce section-144 for acquisition of land for Swat Motorway-Phase-II and hopefully work on it would start in February next month. Phase-II of Swat Motorway from Chakdara to Fatehpur Madayan would be onward connected to scenic Bahrain and Kalam valleys through link roads to give boost to tourism, adventure sports, fruits, agriculture and trade activities in Swat valley. Engr Baratullah said the process of Expression of Interest has been completed and national and international construction firms have submitted proposals.
He said that Phase-II would be completed under the Built and Operate Transfer (BoT) mode through public private partnership, adding Swat Motorway-Phase-II and Peshawar-DI Khan motorway were both technically feasible projects from all aspects.
“Completion of Swat Motorway’s Phase-I is our great success story as approximately 150,000 vehicles are regularly using it on a daily basis, making a positive impact on people’s lives .” Riaz Khan, Special Assistant to Chief Minister for Communication and Works (C&W) said Peshawar-DI Khan and Swat Motorway Phase-II would be linked with M-I (Peshawar-DI Khan Motorway).
“CPEC’s Rashakai Economic Zone, Nowshera Economic Zone, Ghazi Economic Zone, Chitral Economic Zone, Mohmand Economic Zone and Dera Ismail Khan Economic Zone would also be linked with these motorways to bolster trade and industrialization,” he said. Besides initiation of work on Dir-Chakdara Motorway to link Malakand division including Chitral districts with rest of the country through Lowari Tunnel, he said Bunner district would be linked with Swat Motorway through a tunnel to be constructed at Karakar.
The CM’s aide said work on 65 mega communication projects with allocation of Rs 17 billion was underway in KP including 14 projects in seven tribal districts having Rs4 billion outlay in budget 202-21 under Accelerated Implementation Program (AIP). “We have hired NESPAK for execution of mega projects in merged areas to ensure transparency in utilization of funds, projects’ durability and earthquake proof-designs,” he said.
Riaz Khan said Khyber Pass Economic Corridor has been approved by the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC) and would be constructed with the financial assistance of the World Bank which was estimated as $460 million.
“Initially, it would be a four-lane 48-km long highway to be built from Peshawar to Khyber Pass up to Torkham that would generate employment opportunities for more than two lakh people besides taking the volume of trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan to new heights.
He said a Central Designs Office had been established for standardization of development plans besides preparation of technical designs for buildings of schools, colleges, basic health and rural health units, government residential buildings, structural designs, plumbing and electrification.