ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and the World Bank signed on Friday a project agreement worth $406.6 million for financing the Khyber Pass Economic Corridor (KPEC) project.
Minister for Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar witnessed the signing ceremony at the Economic Affairs Division.
Economic Affairs Division Secretary Dr Syed Pervaiz Abbas and World Bank Country Director for Pakistan Patchamuthu Illangovan signed the loan agreement.
Speaking on the occasion, Azhar pointed out that the signing of the important project agreement indicated the World Bank’s commitment to support the development agenda of the Pakistan government.
The minister welcomed the World Bank’s continued support to the government of Pakistan in its efforts to achieve sustainable economic development.
Appreciating the reform initiatives of the government, Illangovan said the bank would extend all possible facilitation and financial support to the government in its efforts to promote economic activities in the country and put the economy back on track of prosperity.
The project is aimed at constructing a 48km four-lane, dual carriageway, high-speed and access-controlled motorway from Peshawar to Torkham in a bid to promote economic development and ensure uplift of the areas adjoining the expressway and falling in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
The project envisages public-private partnership and private financing for developing clusters of economic activity, economic zones and expressways.
The connecting transport infrastructure and economic zones would provide a strong foundation for the private business to invest in these zones.
The global integration of South and Central Asia is intertwined with the Khyber Pass, which has served as the key node in trade for hundreds of years.
The expressway between Peshawar and Kabul through the Khyber Pass represents a section of Corridors 5 and 6 of the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (Carec).
Corridor 5, which runs through Pakistan, has the potential to provide the shortest link between the landlocked countries of Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and the Arabian Sea. Corridor 6 provides access to Europe, the Middle East and Russia.
KPEC will finance the Peshawar-Torkham expressway portion of the Corridor 5.
The Peshawar-Torkham expressway will reduce transit time and costs for regional and international trade, transiting the Khyber Pass and extend till Karachi-Lahore-Islamabad-Peshawar Trans-Pakistan Expressway system.
It will be developed as an integral part of the planned Peshawar-Kabul-Dushanbe motorway.
The improved regional connectivity through this corridor would not only facilitate commercial traffic and expand economic activities between Pakistan and Afghanistan but will also promote private-sector development along the corridor. It is expected to generate up to 100,000 new jobs in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 14th, 2019.