ISLAMABAD: Despite its strained relations with Afghanistan, Pakistan has given a go-ahead to the National Highway Authority (NHA) to begin the process of hiring consultants who will carry out a feasibility study on the proposed Peshawar-Kabul Motorway.
According to documents available with The Express Tribune, the NHA is undertaking the process to hire consultants for the project. Officials say the preliminary cost of the project is Rs80 billion. It will take an approximate three years to build. The project will not only help boost trade between the two neighbouring countries, but will also give Pakistan an access to Central Asia.
NHA spokesman Kashif Zaman, sharing the background of the project, said in a meeting held in August 2013 between foreign ministers of the two countries, Kabul requested Islamabad to construct the motorway keeping in view the growing demand of trade between the two countries.
The process to hire consultants for feasibility study of the project is expected to be completed in the next six months, according to the NHA spokesman. It will be a four-lane access-controlled motorway, he said.
The total length of the motorway is 281 kilometres and is divided into three packages: Peshawar-Torkham (50km) which will be constructed from scratch meanwhile the existing structure of Torkham-Jalalabad (76km) and Jalalabad-Kabul (155km) will be upgraded, he said.
The road running between Torkham and Jalalabad was completed in 2005.
Impressed by the quality of the project, the Afghan government had requested Pakistan to construct an additional carriageway on the project so that increasing traffic load could be catered for.
The request was accepted and work on the additional carriageway started in 2007 but could not be carried out due to multiple reasons.
However, after coming into power, the present government restarted work on the project in July 2015.
According to the NHA, currently 60 per cent work has been executed and the project is expected to meet its completion deadline of June 2017. It is 74 kilometres long and will cost around Rs7 billion.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 27th, 2016.