ISLAMABAD: Member of National Assembly Riaz Fatyana and Ministry of Communications Parliamentary Secretary Mian Muhammad Shafique inaugurated on Saturday the Gojra–Shorkot section of the National Motorway M4, which will further reduce travel cost and time for people and goods moving from and towards south Punjab.
The construction was done with the support of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Department for International Development (DFID) of the United Kingdom under the Pakistan Economic Corridors Programme to promote regional trade, tourism and economic growth in the country. ADB provided $178 million in financing for the four-lane, access-controlled 61 kilometres motorway, while DFID provided $92 million in grant. The programme envisions upgrading highway networks connecting the country’s southern and northern parts, helping improve road links between Pakistan and Central Asian countries as well as China.
Setting deadline: Swat Expressway to open in May
The Faisalabad-Gojra 58.2km section, which was completed with ADB support, is already open for traffic. Meanwhile, the 65.28km Shorkot–Khanewal road section is under construction.
Once completed, the M4 will connect Faisalabad with Multan and provide an efficient transport corridor link between the northern parts of the country and the port cities of Karachi and Gwadar. It will also link up these cities with the existing networks of national motorways M1, M2, and M3, shortening the travel distance of south Punjab with central and northern urban and business centre, including Lahore, Islamabad and Peshawar.
“The new road will unlock trade and agribusiness potential for millions of people in Gojra, Shorkot and adjoining area that will bring many smaller cities and towns into a more efficient transportation loop. It will also provide people better access to basic facilities, including health and education,” said ADB Country Director for Pakistan Xiaohong Yang.
Swat Motorway extension likely
DFID’s head in Pakistan, Joanna Reid, said the new motorway will provide safe and faster transport to people and ease heavy traffic on the existing roads in thickly populated areas around Shorkot. She hoped the road would help farmers to transport their produce from farm to market faster and cheaper, improving their productivity and prosperity.
The transport sector contributes about 10 per cent to the country’s gross domestic product. It is estimated that 2.3 million people or about 6 per cent of the total employed labour force of Pakistan earn their livelihood from this sector. Road transport also dominates the country’s transport system, accounting for almost 96 per cent of freight and 92 per cent of passenger traffic.
Much of the country's 12,500km national highway network is old and dilapidated, impeding the efficiency and safety of road transport.