Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday launched his own version of ‘Plan D – Development’ by laying the foundation stone of a project aimed at renovating the 357km-long Islamabad-Lahore M-2 Motorway section. “No one would be allowed to create any hurdle in the way of progress and development of Pakistan,” the Prime Minister said as he unveiled his plan of construction of roads, infrastructure and development works to end power load shedding.
“The people of Pakistan have already rejected those who are trying to push the country over the edge,” he said while addressing a large gathering here at the Balkasar Interchange. The Prime Minister said the word “D” can mean both “development and “destruction,” however he believes in “development” unlike those who are bent upon “destruction”. The Prime Minister said hurdles against his government were not new and those who hold protests and demonstrations against him regularly travel on the same road they use to criticise.
He said lots of hue and cry was raised when work on Lahore-Islamabad Motorway was initiated. However the whole project was completed within a transparent manner. Despite the efforts of opponents, no one could find even a shred of evidence against the project. He said when his party goes to polls in 2018, they will proudly carry with them fulfilled promises of ending loadshedding, lowering exchange rate, completion of mega development projects, lower inflation, elimination of extremism and terrorism.
He said on the contrary his opponents would carry with their how they closed down cities, protests, arson and looting, obstacles in path of progress and development of Pakistan, attack on the Parliament, damage to democracy and nothing constructive. “They are damaging entire Pakistan as they damaged one province,” he said. He said the modernisation of the M-2 Motorway would jointly be undertaken by the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) and National Highway Authority (NHA) within a stipulated time of three years. The Prime Minister said though the FWO Chief has assured him of completing the road in the shortest period of time, however, he said, he understands that “General Afzal would be able to deliver the road in one and a half years.”
He said that the government was not seeking any loans from abroad for the construction of this road. On the contrary, the Frontier Works Organisation would pay “an amount of Rs 206 billion to the government of Pakistan over the agreement period, besides looking after the road. The very first day the project kicks off, Rs 9.5 billion would be paid to the government.”
The Prime Minister also assured that the proposal by FWO for setting up Industrial Zones would be undertaken on a priority basis by the government and a feasibility would be prepared in due course. He appreciated the Director General FWO Major General Muhammad Afzal for undertaking the project and several other development works throughout the country. He lauded the FWO for constructing roads in parts of Balochistan where no private organisation was willing to work.
He said the project would help bring in latest construction machinery and equipment for the upgradation of the road. He hoped that modern technology being inducted by the FWO would be used for undertaking similar works across the country. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that the government has lowered the price of electricity tariff by Rs 2.32 per unit and said the government step would have a trickle-down effect. He hoped a reduction in power tariff would help industries flourish and boost agriculture productivity. Sharif said the price of electricity would further decline in the days ahead, when it would be generated from coal, completion of Bhasha and Dasu Dam, Bunji Dam, Chasma IV and Neelum-Jhelum and other projects.
He said with lower price of electricity the prices of fertilisers and other industrial products would also decline and generate economic activity at all levels. He said the next project undertaken would be the motorways from Karachi to Lahore, Peshawar to Kabul, and Kashgar to Gawadar. The Prime Minister said the previous government ignored its duty of renovating the road after ten years of use; however his government was now undertaking that gigantic task.
He said the motorway at that time had a cost around of Rs 30 billion, which was now five times more and equivalent to Rs 249 billion. He said the motorway has now become an earning venture besides saving time and cost of commuters. Prime Minister Sharif said the M-2 motorway was an example that how the value of assets multiplies over time. He said he can foresee a modern Pakistan in not too distant future where a modern road network would be connecting the agricultural farms to markets and to cities and eventually to airports and sea ports.
Sharif said improvement on the KKH (Korakaram Highway) would also usher in a new era of development and it would be linked with Islamabad through tunnels under the Margalla hills. He said his government was also working on a plan to provide natural gas to all cities and towns of Balochistan in the next two years so as to end a sense of deprivation.
Director General FWO Major General Muhammad Afzal said renovation of the project would be done in accordance with international standards and would be completed well ahead of the three-year deadline. He said the reconstruction would be carried out without disturbing the flow of traffic. He said the road would be modernised and meet latest international standards. Giving details, he said CCTV cameras would be installed at every kilometer to provide live coverage and ensure safety and security of road users.
He said fruit trees would be planted along the M-2, while theme parks and improved rest areas would provide travellers a comfortable stay. The Lahore-Islamabad motorway (M2) has been entrusted to Frontier Works Organisation for its overlay and modernisation for the next 20 years on Built-Operate-Transfer basis. Under the project the ride quality of the road would be improved besides generating economic activity.
According to the contract agreement, the repair work will include improved road safety features, rescue and recovery, distress management, toll plazas and rest area facilities. General Afzal said traffic on the road would be monitored through a centralised operations centre, electronic toll collection would be introduced, traffic counting and Weigh-in-Motion systems would also be put in place. For a improved emergency response immediate medical assistance would be provided, besides setting up of Rapid Rescue and Recovery, visible message signs for timely information for motorists.
General Afzal said the FWO has been successfully completing mega projects of national importance related to hydro electric, mining and railways. He also mentioned the ongoing work on the Karakoram and Makran Coastal Highways. Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid, parliamentarians, Chairman NHA Shahid Ashraf Tarar and Engineer in Chief Lieutenant General Khalid Asghar were present.