PESHAWAR: Work on the Rs38-billion Swat Expressway is expected to be launched next month.

A statement issued here on Saturday that the expressway was a mega project to be launched by the provincial government under the Public Private Partnership Act, 2014, which will be complete in two years.

Frontier Works Organisation is to build the project under the Built, Operate and Transfer (BOT) basis.

The 81-kilometre-long expressway will connect Karnal Sher Khan Interchange on Peshawar-Islamabad Motorway with Chakdara, tunneling its way through mountains at Palai and Ala Dhand.

Two kilometres of the expressway will fall in the vicinity of Nowshera, 18km in Swabi, 40km in Mardan and 21km in Malakand. The total width of the expressway will be 80 meters.

Pakhtunkhwa Highway Authority (PKHA) officials said the length of the tunnels had been estimated at about two kilometres.

With the completion of the road, journey from Karnal Sher Khan Interchange to Chakdara will take only 45 minutes.

According to present estimates, more than 18,000 vehicles will use this route daily, generating direct and indirect revenue for the government.

The expressway will be constructed on the pattern of motorway with as many as four lanes which will be extended to six lanes afterwards.

Interchanges will be constructed at Dhobian, Ismaila, Bakshalay, Katlang, Palai and Chakdara. It will provide access to more than 40 villages which were previously inaccessible, generating numerous business opportunities for locals.

Besides providing job opportunities to residents of adjacent villages, these areas will also witness development because of easy access to major market places. Previously, these areas remained backward because they were cut off from major routes making transportation and business extremely difficult.

Moreover, the route will also boost tourism sector because of easy access to tourist spots in Swat and adjacent areas and will generate indirect revenue for the province and business opportunities for thousands of people.

According to the PKHA officials, the expressway is also of strategic importance because it will provide easy and fast access to remote areas that were previously inaccessible.

The land acquisition for the project is in final stage with more than 70pc work having already been completed by the revenue department. The officials said every effort had been made to protect forestry of the adjoining areas and that less than 100 homes would be affected by the entire project.

Published in Dawn, August 7th, 2016