Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday prioritised the repair and maintenance of motorways and road networks after noticing the shabby state of highways and roads in the country.
“We should have constructed many more motorways up till now, but the fact is that development of roads and motorways have been a low priority,” he said while taking briefing from the officials of ministries of planning, communications and railways at Pakistan Secretariat this afternoon.
The prime minister lamented the fact that not completing projects on time had almost become a national character.
Putting across his dissatisfaction over the briefing, PM Nawaz gave one week to the ministry of communications to complete their work and ordered to arrange a follow-up briefing after that.
He directed ministries of communications, railways and planning to take the process of cooperation with China on Pakistan-China Economic Corridor to next level of implementation.
“Pakistan-China Economic Corridor will open up the underdeveloped areas of the country to a new era of economic development and prosperity by connecting maximum number of population through network of highways and railways,” the prime minister said.
He said that three billion people, almost half of the world’s population, from China, South Asia and Central Asia can benefit from this economic corridor and added that it should be so designed that a maximum number of people of the country benefit from this corridor.
During the meeting, the prime minister was briefed at length about the proposed road and rail link from Khunjerab Pass on China border to Gwadar port on the shores of Balochistan that are to be constructed as part of Pakistan-China Economic Corridor at an estimated cost $18 billion.
Putting great emphasis on ensuring quality of work and transparency, the prime minister directed the authorities concerned to explore more options keeping in view the factors of terrain, population and social cost of the project in the form of population dislocations while drawing the areas through which this corridor will be passing.
He said that Lahore-Islamabad Motorway should be taken as a model and that its quality and standard need to be kept in view while constructing the Pakistan-China Economic Corridor.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also gave his approval in principle for the restructuring of Planning and Development Division. Under the restructuring plan, the Planning Division will get the status of a think tank for highest policy in-put and the ministry of planning and development will be renamed as Planning, Development and Reforms Division.
The premier took to task National Highway Authority chairman Hamid Ali Khan, when he failed to recall the important cities that would be linked through proposed Karachi-Lahore motorway. “I wish you had done some homework on this important project,” observed the prime minster.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 19th, 2013.