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August 21, 2019

Delayed projects


August 21, 2019

One of the reasons Pakistan is in such poor financial state and has to go around with a begging bowl is that major projects are not completed under the original scheduled timeline. There are many reasons for this, which include change of government, lack of funding and continuity. Work started on Khanpur Dam in 1965; the dam was completed 18 years later in 1983 but it took another 11 years before water from Khanpur Dam could be supplied to Rawalpindi in Islamabad. Work on the Lowari Tunnel was started in 1975 by Mr Bhutto but due to lack of funding the work was stopped. It is said that since Bhutto had started the project Gen Zia did not want to continue with the project. After an over 40 year delay it was finally completed in 2017, much to the relief for the people of Chitral. The foundation stone for the M-1 Motorway was laid in 1992. Work was started by a Turkish company in 1999 but were “expelled from the site” in 2001 by the then Chairman NHA due to slow place of work. The Turkish company went for arbitration in an international court and won the case. The M-1 Motorway Project was finally completed in 2008, whereas the Turkish company would have completed the project by 2002 if they had not been expelled. Work on the New Islamabad Airport started in 2006 and should have been completed by 2012-13. Instead it was opened in May 2018, five years late and at double the original cost.

In all these cases public money was wasted and benefits that were to accrue to the people did not as the projects were delayed. In national projects where, besides taxpayers’ money, foreign loans are taken to build these projects it is imperative that the completion dates are followed strictly. One of the reasons for the huge foreign debt is the projects were not paying back in time. This leads me to the Reko Diq copper and gold mine project. Initial discussions were held in 1993. Even 26 years later the nation has not been able to get any benefit from its national resource at Reko Diq. Instead we are stuck with a fine of $6 billion which is growing with every passing day as we have to pay interest on the fine. It is hoped that work at the mine is resumed without delay to reduce financial loss to the people of Pakistan.

Syed Hussein El-Edroos


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