Chairman and members of the Standing Committee on Communications of the National Assembly have questioned the National Highway Authority (NHA) on the reasons for cheaper roads being built now as compared to the ones built in 2018. Committee members also expressed their concern over the lack of facilities on motorways across the country.
At a meeting of the Standing Committee on Communications chaired by Ibadullah Khan on Tuesday, NHA officials said that the cost of running motorways across the country has increased by Rs20 billion.
Parliamentarian Murtaza Javed Abbasi asked whether constructing roads is becoming cheaper as compared to costs in 2018, as the Minister of Communications is boasting that we have built affordable roads in 2021. When the minister is saying that the construction cost of roads has been reduced, can the officials give us any details, he queried.
NHA officials remained silent on these questions. Committee chairman questioned that when the costing details are with the Minister, are they not even with the department?
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On the issue of expensive items on the motorway, NHA officials said that the sale of expensive items on the motorway has increased, starting from Rs50,000 to Rs250,000 which used to be from Rs10,000 to Rs100,000. The committee directed the NHA to take steps to control the prices and update the committee within a month.
NHA officials reported that the toll rate has not been increased anywhere on highways M-2 and M-9, since 2011. Committee member Usama Qadri asked whether it was necessary to declare M-9 as a motorway as there were no facilities available on it which should be available on all modern motorways.
Murtaza Abbasi stated that we reached Peshawar from Hazara Motorway in one hour, to which the chairman of the committee added that if the authorities cannot provide better services on M-9, they should cancel the project. Murtaza Javed Abbasi added that these problems will not be solved until the Communications Minister comes to the committee meetings.
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