Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Sunday inaugurated the Lyari Expressway in Karachi, marking it as fully operational 15 years after work on the project first began.
The project which was estimated to be completed in 2003 for Rs3 billion is now costing around Rs23bn, according to information provided to the Sindh High Court earlier.
This includes four interchanges and 20 bridges, and is expected to alleviate the rush caused by a large volume of traffic in the megacity, Radio Pakistan reported.
However, people who surrendered their residential properties for construction of the project have not been duly compensated. Earlier in January, the Sindh High Court directed authorities to compensate citizens for their troubles at the earliest.
PM Abbasi is also expected to inaugurate the Northbound Carriageway in Karachi today.
Addressing the inauguration ceremony, PM Abbasi explained the project had taken over 10 years to complete due to "technical difficulties and encroachments". He thanked Sindh Chief Minister Murad Shah and others for their efforts to remove the hurdles in the way of the Expressway becoming fully operational.
Although parts of the Lyari Expressway are open to traffic, a section of it remained incomplete for a number of years, rendering a vast portion inoperational.
He observed that the project had become more expensive the longer it had taken to complete. "The PML-N leadership not only starts projects but also finishes them," he claimed, adding that the norm is for one government to start a project and a third government to come and complete it.
In Davos, representatives of many countries asked us how we had been able to complete work on such large motorways so quickly, PM Abbasi told his audience. "Our enthusiasm has borne fruit and all projects will be completed in time and within the budget," he assured.
With the operationalisation of the Expressway, traffic to and from Karachi port will decrease and the flooding of the Lyari river will also be more manageable, the premier said.
We must all work together to solve Karachi's problems. It is the country's commercial hub and if it doesn't progress, then Pakistan will not be able to progress, Abbasi added. "That's why we are committed to Karachi's progress."
PM Abbasi said he had tasked his economic adviser, Miftah Ismail, to be attentive to the city's development "so that Karachi's problems are decreased."
The development of infrastructural projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will stimulate job creation, which in turn will lead to more tax revenue, therefore enabling the economy to grow, the premier said.