The ministry of communications has sought Rs20 billion for the renovation of the country’s motorways, a world-class network of roads which is now said to be in dire need of repairs.
The ministry of communications works as an administrative authority on communications and transport systems across the country. Dr Arbab Alamgir Khan, who looks after the ministry, apprised the Senate on Tuesday of the cost of construction and renovation of highways.
According to the minister, the network requires a five-inch overlay on an ‘urgent basis’ and that the ministry will also recommend rebuilding M-2 [motorway 2] which connects Lahore and Islamabad if the proposed amount is released.
Renovation of the Chakdara-Timargarh highway will be completed by the end of this month, Khan said. It will cost the ministry Rs26 million.
To a question from ANP Senator Zahid Khan, the minister said that a 14-kilometre-long strip on the Talash-Timargarah section has been renovated and the road is now free of potholes.
Giving details of deputations, Khan said the National Highway Authority (NHA) will repatriate people of deputation to their parent departments as it has recruited new policemen. Currently, the authority is 4,446-strong – 40% of them are on deputation.
Senate Chairman Nayyar Hussain Bokhari said the NHA should make immediate hiring and stop seeking people from other departments on deputation.
Replying to a question about a flood emergency rehabilitation project, Khan said that Rs6.5 billion has been set aside for this purpose under the Public Sector Development Programme in the current fiscal year.
The government has plans to renovate a 51-kilometre-long strip on the Fatehpur-Kalam section which has been debilitated by last year’s floods. The rehabilitation work will cost around Rs6.5 billion, of which 85% will be borne by the Asian Development Bank, said Khan.
Senators from all parties agreed the government should lay down an exclusive criterion to generate Rs300 to Rs400 billion annually by auctioning the spectrum of third generation (3G) telecom services in the country.
Leader of the House Jehangir Badar assured the lawmakers that the ministry of information technology and the Pakistan Telecom Authority will lay down a transparent mechanism for the auction.
A special committee will be constituted by the finance minister and a consultant is being appointed to look after technical aspects of the project, Badar said. Details will soon be made public through the media.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 11th, 2012.
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