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Tuesday November 30, 2021

Transparency and development through construction

October 23, 2021

After coming into power, the present government focused on improving the performance of national institutions. To further improve the efficiency and working regime of National Highway Authority (NHA) with the objective to inculcate transparency & fairness in its affairs was a great challenge to the government.

However, keeping in view the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan, NHA, an attached organisation of Ministry of Communications, undertook concrete steps and chalked out comprehensive plan to complete road infrastructure projects at a rapid pace throughout the country. Revolutionary measures taken by NHA to translate vision of PM into reality will ever be remembered as a part of national history. The first priority was to construct motorways and national highways on Public Private Partnership (PPP) basis with the view to reduce the financial burden on national ex-chequer and to make roads construction and their maintenance procedures completely transparent.

At present times, it is noteworthy that in the past the value of dollar was low while now its value has increased. Cement, steel and building materials were cheap in the past. While presently with increased value of dollar, the rates of construction materials have also been increased. In such state of affairs, the extraordinary measures undertaken by present government have resulted in execution of national highways and motorways projects at much lower cost.

In the past, despite low dollar rate, 1 km long, 2 lane road was constructed at a cost of Rs118.171 million whereas presently 1 Km long, 2 lane road is being constructed at cost of Rs110.991 million despite increase in dollar rate. In the past 4-lane national highway was completed at cost of Rs411.078 million per kilometre, while the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government is constructing 4-lane national highway at cost of Rs173.515 million per km. Again, previously, one km long road was used to be rehabilitated and maintained at cost of Rs80.111 million, while presently this cost has been reduced to Rs53.400 million. In the past, 4 lane motorway on Build Operate Transfer (BOT) basis was built at Rs606.044 million per km. while presently, 4 lane motorway on BOT is costing Rs395.652 million per km. Prime Minister Imran Khan has commended efforts made by construction experts and engineers of NHA for building roads at low cost.

Due to transparency and effective process of self-reliance, a considerable saving has been achieved by starting projects at low cost. National Highway Authority is also earning revenue from toll plazas and exploitation of its Right of Way (ROW). Resultantly, NHA is not getting loan from the government for construction and maintenance of roads. Now, the government is spending this money on public welfare schemes of health and education sectors including the ‘Ehsaas’ Programme. It is worth mentioning that introduction of e-Bidding system is another remarkable step forward towards ensuring transparency in award of roads construction and maintenance projects, for which NHA deserves appreciation.

Credit goes to NHA for recapturing its land from the land mafia. Presently issues relating to land acquisition are being resolved in an efficient manner thereby ensuring timely completion of road projects. The government has played a vital role in recapturing land from land mafia. It seems appropriate to recall that NHA is controlling 51 roads network across the country having total length of 13,572 Kms that includes 11,255 Km long 38-National Highways, 2,055 km long 10- motorways and 262 long 3-strategic roads.

Following the vision of the Prime Minister, Ministry of Communications, NHA has successfully started construction of motorways and national highways under Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode, thus providing opportunity to private sector to come forward and invest in road building schemes of the public sector. The federal government has formulated a comprehensive policy to undertake projects on the PPP mode. To this effect, an Act has also been approved for effective implementation of such projects.

Establishment of Public Private Partnership Authority is reflective of Government’s keen interest to this pragmatic approach. A Public Private Partnership Cell is also actively functional at NHA head office. The Cell has made practical advancement for private sector participation in national highways, motorway, tunnels and bridges projects in the country. NHA considers that the technical, managerial and financial resources of the private sector can fortify its efforts towards national development. After carefully evaluating a wide range of alternatives, NHA has decided to encourage the private sector to participate in a number of significant projects of national highways and motorway as well as a limited number of tunnel and bridge projects with the view to support and sustain Pakistan’s rapid rate of economic growth. This initiative will not only prepare the ground to promote construction industry but will help at large reduce financial load on national ex-chequer. Undoubtedly, the private sector financing based schemes are repository to national development ultimately putting country on the track towards a new Pakistan.

During the last a few years, NHA remained successful in providing conducive atmosphere for private sector investment in road sector and to date has completed four projects of worth around Pak Rs135 billion on Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) basis. Construction of 2 km long new flyover (Habibabad bridge) located on N-5 is one of the projects completed on PPP mode at cost of Rs0.831 billion. Likewise overlay and modernization of 357 km Lahore-Islamabad motorway has also been realized costing more than Rs46 billion. Further, conversion of 4-Lane highway into six lane Karachi-Hyderabad motorway was also taken on PPP mode. This 136 km long motorway was completed at cost of Rs44.251 billion. Another milestone of NHA is the completion of 89 km long Lahore-Sialkot motorway. This 4 Lane motorway is built with 6 lane structures at cost of Rs43.847 billion. This motorway has linked industrial city of Sialkot with motorways network of the country. On successful completion, all these projects are operational now.

NHA has now decided to undertake nine more projects on this emerging concept of PPP having total length of 1726 Km. Hyderabad-Sukkur Motorway is a project of national as well as regional significance. NHA is endeavoring for earlier start of construction activity on this mega project. Sukkur-Hyderabad Motorway will be 306 km long, 14 interchanges, one major bridge on River Indus, 6 flyovers, 10 Service Areas and 12 rest areas will also be built along this motorway. NHA is working to start work on this last missing link of Peshawar-Karachi Motorway (PKM) economic corridor at the earliest. The PKM will pave the way of prosperity besides promoting regional trade through ports of Karachi and Gwadar.

Participation of private sector in motorways and highways building will bring National Highway Authority and Private Sector more closer to each other to have maximum advantage from experiences of each other.

The government’s vision is to build roads and expand road network to a great extent by 2030, so as to achieve goals of national and regional economic integration. In order to achieve this objective, cooperation of the private sector is an important element. National Highway Authority (NHA) has also undertaken gigantic game changer China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Program and Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation Program (CAREC) under which country wide national highways and motorways projects are being started. The transparent efforts being made by NHA in line with the vision of Prime Minister of Imran Khan will have far-reaching positive impact on economic conditions of the whole region in general and that of Pakistan in particular. This will ultimately be instrumental in making Pakistan a hub of regional trade in the true perspective.