Pakistan and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Thursday signed a loan agreement of $178 million for construction of the Gojra-Shorkot section of the M-4 Motorway, aimed at linking the southern parts of the country with the northern belt.
The United Kingdom will also fund road construction and would provide $90.7 million as a grant. The UK will disburse funds through the ADB. The government will invest the counterpart share of $46 million, bringing the total cost of the project to $315 million.
The M-4 Motorway will have four sections. The Faisalabad-Gojra’s 58-kilometre section has been opened for traffic. The project was completed by obtaining a loan of $170 million from the ADB. However, a dispute between the contractor and the NHA remains unresolved.
The Gojra-Shorkot section of 62km will be completed by 2019. The rest of the sections are Shorkot-Din Pur-Khanewal (64km) and Khanewal-Multan (45km).
Once the M-4 is completed, it will link the southern parts of Punjab with the north through already established networks of motorways. The M-4 Motorway will extend the already completed M-1, M-2 and M-3 motorways southward and shorten the distance between Multan and the twin cities of Islamabad-Rawalpindi.
Upon completion, the M-4 Motorway will provide a four-lane access controlled alternative to the existing narrow and congested routes notably in the heavily trafficked Faisalabad and Khanewal-Multan-Muzffargrah areas.
Economic Affairs Division (EAD) Secretary Saleem Sethi and the ADB Country Director Werner Liepach signed the loan agreement.
It is the second project that is being co-financed by the UK government. Britain is already a participant of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and provided $121.6 million in grant to fund construction of the Burhan-Havelian Expressway, which falls on the northern route.
The ADB said the new investment will boost the flow of trade and travel while reducing transportation cost and time from Pakistan’s textile producing hub Faisalabad towards Multan, which is the major trade centre in southern Punjab.
The ADB and UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) have joined hands to assist Pakistan in improving the country’s vital north-south road network to promote economic growth, job creation and regional connectivity, according to an official handout issued by the local office of the Manila-based lending agency.
Acting head of the UK’s DFID Judith Herberston said UK’s partnership with ADB and the government of Pakistan will help improve road safety and enhance local and regional trade.
The M-4 is also a step towards positioning Pakistan to act as a transit artery for goods moving between the port city of Karachi in the south to Torkham on the northern border with Afghanistan through the country’s major business and population centres.
The 1,800-km route will also eventually link Pakistan’s ports with the land-locked regions of Central Asia, and will allow Pakistan to reap dividends of its active membership in the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Programme, said the ADB.
The EAD secretary thanked ADB and DIFD for providing vital support to Pakistan, particularly for efficiency gain from road traffic operation along the National Transport Corridor. He assured Pakistan’s commitment to mobilise all-out efforts and scale up practices for improving and developing inter-provincial linkages to improve local connectivity.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 23rd, 2015.