ISLAMABAD: A Senate committee expressed on Thursday dissatisfaction over the progress made so far by the National Highway Authority (NHA) on the ambitious China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.
A meeting of the Standing Committee on Communications presided over Senator Daud Khan Achakzai observed that the government was concealing facts about the project’s alignment, designing, funding and role of China.
It expressed reservations over non-allocation of funds and non-execution of construction work on the corridor’s western route mainly passing through Balochistan from Dera Ismail Khan to Gwadar via Zhob, Qila Saifullah, Khushab, Nag and Basima.
NAH Chairman Shahid Ashraf Tarar, a close confidant of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, briefed the committee on the CPEC and the overall performance of the authority. He admitted that no fund had so far been allocated for the corridor’s western route.
Talking to Dawn, the committee’s chairman Daud Achakzai said the NHA had not started any work on the western route. “This has also been admitted by the NHA chairman.”
Senator Kalsoom Perveen, a member of the committee, told Dawn that the NHA chairman, who is also secretary of communications, said the western route had been excluded from the CPEC project.
The NHA chairman informed the committee that the corridor would be completed in 15 to 20 years and the western route would be accommodated some time later.
Mr Achakzai said the government was forming committee after committee on the CPEC only to conceal facts and sideline the issue of its construction. “We don’t know the exact alignment and design of the corridor and that how much fund has so far been allocated for the project,” he regretted.
Earlier, the government had formed a parliamentary committee headed by Senator Taj Haider. Now another committee headed by Senator Mushahid Hussain has been set up.
The committee monitoring the progress of CPEC met once a month and the government and NHA officials always came up with new ways of hiding facts, Mr Achakzai regretted.
He said the committee would seek a quarterly report on the CPEC from the government and its members would raise their voice not only in parliament but would also inform the public about it.
The committee regretted that the NHA was ignoring road projects in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh while those in Punjab were being timely completed.
The committee approved removal toll plazas in Chak Dara in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and some other areas. It also approved execution of work on the Takht Bai bridge.
The committee was informed that about 28 new road projects across the country would be completed over the next three years.
Published in Dawn, October 2nd, 2015